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THE FOOTBALL POEMS

My favourite poets

Kenneth Wolstenholme,
for me it begins with him, that undimmed line
you know the one,
I was not yet one when he spoke it,

Martin Tyler,
always eloquent, an Aresenal fan but
I listened to him find joy, give joy,
in that Giggs goal, in that semi-final,

Clive Tyldesley,
always under-rated
cup replays at Doncaster, who does those,
and then Istanbul, he believed and his words made me believe,

Brain Moore,
never “Motty” but nearly,
to be the next best poet of your generation must be cruel,
Arsenal ’89 was his though and that was something,

Alan Green,
never seen but heard through crackling radios of youth
truth is his currency, and how,
and I love him for it,

Barry Davies,
his unwavering love of beauty holds him high
he saw it in that second Maradona goal
and to lose to such beauty is not such defeat,

And then…
John Motson,
poet of his generation, poet of our time,
my time, he grew me up with words
absurdly wrong sometimes but so perfect
always,
he gave me Owen’s goal
and Pearce’s penalty
and he gave me Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
winning it for Manchester
winning it for me
that second corner,

These are my poets
without them it is twenty two men
kicking a bag of air
who would care?

 

 

 

Kenny

Kenny was a mate of mine
We used to go and watch Millwall together
Managed to blag a couple of season tickets
On account of his disability
I went along as his carer
Too fucking funny.

Kenny had Down’s Syndrome
He didn’t worry about it
He had some trouble speaking
And the most evil sense of humour I ever knew
I can still hear his laugh
Worse than Mutley.

Kenny swore a lot
But
“Fuck off” came out “Fug all”
He was proud that he could say his own name,
Properly,
He’d tap his chest and say
“Kenny Evans” when introduced.

I didn’t know better when I first met him
So I tapped my chest and said…”Philbrook, Simon Philbrook…”
He roared with laughter
And ever after when I arrived he’d tap me on the chest saying..
“Fug-all, Fug-all, Smime”
Then fall about laughing.
I miss that.

Kenny loved football
He loved the cheering and the chants,
and anyone who scored…..them or us!
Upper tier behind the goal
Whenever “the referee’s a wanker” could be heard
You knew that Kenny would be standing up conducting
Like it was last night of the proms.

At home to some crap nobody’s in the cup
Thatcher steps up to head away a corner
Perfect own goal
Silence,
Visitors end was always empty then,
Kenny stands up
Shouts “GOAL” in perfect diction,
I couldn’t look.
Then from a couple of rows behind the chant began
“Stand up if you love Kenny…..Stand up if you love Kenny”
He conducted
I cried.

This is why I fucking love football.

 

 

 

Pele’s Dummy

I had this girlfriend once
Loved her to bits
Gorgeous tits, nasty temper,
She went away, Cambridge,
Rainy days waiting for trains,
She studied law
Bored the arse off me
so I spent my time
admiring hers,

I met her at the bar one night
She greeted me with a kiss,
Soft, and just lingering enough
to make me think I hadn’t seen
the subtle brush against the hand
of some bloke stood next to her,
No point rowing
When you’re not sure.

Years later
Waiting for a bus in New Cross,
Lazily shop window gazing
HD ready TV’s,
……..Brazil 1970….Team of the Century
On loop,
Pele’s dummy on the Italian keeper
used his body, the way he ran,
to send the poor sod the wrong way,

Skill and speed of thought
Beyond the imagination of the ordinary,

You have to admire that,
And her arse.

 

 

 

bad news
“bad news always reminds me of you”
danny, (one shit short of a brickhouse)
but you didn’t mess with him,
luckily
he knew my brother,

“we always lose when i fucking see you”
danny again, (and technically true)
and i didn’t want to argue,
friendly
pre-season games don’t count,

“if we lose today you’re fucking dead”
danny, (you have to love him)
wasn’t subtle, brutal but fair,
apparently
I left before the half-time whistle, 3-0.

 

 

 

Bouleversement

bou·le·ver·se·ment
n.
1. A violent uproar; a tumult.
2. A reversal.
[French, from Old French bouleverser, to overturn : boule, ball (from Latin bulla) + verser, to overturn (from Old French, from Latin vers–re, frequentative of vertere, to turn).]
1983
me
seventeen
and spotty,
wore a sweat shirt
naff then
cool now,
retro makes no sense to me,
sat down with flat lemonade
and soggy crisps
to watch
THE BIGGEST FUCKING GAME OF FOOTBALL EVER!
in my little,
awkward,
gentle,
life,
we started well (Smith 1-0)
then fell behind (Stapleton and Wilkins 2-1)
then stevens (there’s only one Gary Stevens 2-2)
then smith….
there’s seconds left
he’s through on goal
one kick and Brighton win the FA CUP,
“and smith must score”….the commentator roars,
we scream at the TV
like it can hear us
like we make the difference
like it is our glory, our moment,
it finishes 2-2
we lose the replay
four nil
“and smith must score”,
bouleversement,
a violent uproar; a tumult,
a reversal,

indeed.

 

 

 

a dodgy poem about frank worthington

2am
awake again
these unslept nights
slip quietly by,

distraction calls me to
youtube
and thoughts
of football,

some time in the seventies
watching match of the day
with my uncle
a perfect memory,
dare I spoil it,

THAT worthington goal,
anyone who saw it
remembers,

but

do we?

or are memories special
only because
of place
and moment,
and perhaps
innocence,

i dare myself to find out
and just this once,

just this once,

i am left
smiling.

THAT GOAL

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