This archive contains every poem that has been published on Football Poets. They are listed ten-per-page in reverse chronological order so the most recent poems appear first. Click or tap the arrows in the corners of the page to navigate between pages. It's easier to use the search form below to find a specific poem.
It was at Villa Park
We noticed big Ugo’s frame
At the tender age of forty four
He’s sadly lost to the game
To partner Paul McGrath
Big Ron shelled forty gee
A snip from the Baggies
For the defensive oak tree
Three League Cup wins
Big Ugo made his mark
Old Firm winner at Parkhead
England goal at Villa Park
Merson’s tears told the story
Grief for the lad from Hackney
Honoured in the FA Cup semi
Minutes applause at Wembley
Leeds, Boro, Blades mourn
Armband kissed by Afobe
Rest now big Ugo
You made so many so happy
© emdad rahman
It begins with all the boring stuff, which
makes ‘the match-day experience’ just so:
box office, police control room, the pitch-
marking gear, St John’s. Then the physio
waves us onto couches, fluorescent-lit;
pretends to examine our ‘injuries’.
In the home changing-room, they let us sit
where the players do. It must be a squeeze.
But what we want is the full kiss-and-tell,
the inside word: why Vinnie kicked a hole
in the door in his thankfully brief spell;
why our centre forwards shy away from goal;
whether Harry the hawk ever catches
any pigeons mid-air during matches . . .
The first to strike gold in Europe
Was that famous Black Pearl
Fondly known as Benbarek
To others the Moroccan Earl
El Ouatane aged fourteen
Honed the Black Pearl’s stealth
Two Spanish titles for El Prodigio
Order of Merit after his death
Forty three goals for Stade Français
As Larbi walked the walk
Fifty six as Spain’s Perla Negra
La perle noir du Maroc
From twenty Francs a day
An Iberian prince at Marseille
The first ever “black pearl”
Very high praise from Pele
Eight goals against Southend
A first French cap against Italy
War loomed and Larbi went home
With the arrival of the Nazi
French journalists raged in despair
When Atletico signed a cheque
One wrote; ‘Sell the Eiffel Tower,
But not Ben Barek’
Idéal Club Casablanca and US Marocaine
Stade Français adding spice
Atlético Madrid Los Rojiblancos
Where Larbi won La Liga twice
Nineteen caps for Les Bleus no myth
Danced on dictator Franco’s deck
Bel-Abbès and a stadium named
For Haj Abdelkader Larbi Ben M’barek
© emdad rahman
He’s always feeling sick
got pains in his head,
constantly on edge
nerves torn to a shred.
His hair much greyer
face ashen and pale,
he’s smoking again
drinking too much ale.
He can’t get to sleep
paces up and down,
when looking in the mirror
he sees a miserable frown.
What’s wrong with him
is he slowly going mad ?
he just longs to be happy
but instead he’s so sad.
The doctor says relax
he knows what’s wrong,
you’ve been supporting Coventry City
for far too bloody long !
The truth we wanted, it was our demand.
And justice its companion, hand in hand.
The years rolled on, wasted with rage.
Corruption and lies hogged centre stage.
Eyes grew tired with grief, patience worn.
Promises broken, too many a false dawn.
A broken down system held all the aces.
Liars continued to lie, the same old faces.
96 angels rested as the struggle grew long.
Campaigns never waned, a lifetime strong.
But time took its toll, so much missed youth.
The price many paid for seeking the truth.
That truth was achieved, but why the wait?
A ‘Hillsborough Law’ would seal a liars fate.
This law should be brought in without delay.
As prolonged injustice is to suffer every day.
Under a canopy of unbroken cloud,
across a junction over undropped kerbs
with gates and hedges for goals
and a wickedly uneven, improvised pitch,
you appeared in an urban field of dreams
arrayed on concrete asymmetrically
with distant patchworks of absent parents –
some at work, some gone for ever –
forming the emotional tenor of the game.
This is where we learned to play.
That sick turn – not enough.
That defence-splitting pass
went under a car, I’m afraid.
The fence rapped, gatepost snapped:
neighbourhood watch hobbled up the path.
Mrs Van der Onyajogson said:
‘You can play out here boys, just not with the ball.’
What would be for tea? Could smells from No. 7
also be for me? Behind those curtains
shadow movements. Out here odd conjunctions
stellar in the twilight, bikes and lampposts,
a vigil for returning cars
among the littered debris of the hour
rolling over drain covers. Why,
Eoghan, did you chip it off the bonnet?
And why return the pass, Chris,
at the exact moment Mrs Coombs
slowed her mud-green Nissan Bluebird
for a stationary night to cut across our path?
Council minutes will record
the splendour of the improvised match
in terms of its potential to disrupt
the civilised framework of the drives.
These Days……When football is not quite the same
When football is much more than a game
When football is not all that they claim……These Days.
Those Days……Before diamond formations, Before eight at the back
Before every other manager was facing the sack
And the man in the middle was dressed all in black……Those Days.
These Days……When going to a game is an expensive day out
And boring football we can all do without
With at least Thirty staff members in every dugout……These Days
Those Days……Of open terraces where we sang in the rain
At St James’ Park, or Highbury, and down at The Lane
And long before agents, now a blight on the game……Those Days.
These Days……When signing new contracts matters no more
Escape clauses inserted if your out of top four
It’s medals not money…what do they take us for……These Days.
Those Days……When only goalies wore gloves and not a tattoo in sight
The ‘Football Pink’ was a paper we bought on a Saturday night
Newcastle United won the Fairs cup….and our future looked bright……Those Days.
Swansea City vs. Wrexham, FAW Premier Cup Final,
11th May 2005
On your deathbed
we stripped you –
ripped out red plastic seats
and advertisement boards
stealing gold from fresh bodies.
The Vetch clock,
not yet stopped
but definitely slowing,
final minutes away
as Roger Evans,
muffled by soot,
whispered down chimneys
into Sandfields living-rooms
for the last time.
Then, with makeshift spades
we dug shallow graves
across your boot-worn pitch –
taking turf home
to place on the mantle,
to plant in back-gardens,
to say we were there
when that man in black
sounded the final final-whistle
at our beloved tin-shed.
And as the smell of
warm pies and fried onions
drifted above the floodlights,
getting lost on its way to the bay,
we poured out into the streets
like black and white tears.
It’s the FA People’s Cup,
but who can understand
this affliction in the sun?
Fair weather to me is a bitter breeze,
high winds and a heavy squall,
ice patches on fourth generation
artificial surfaces, capillaries beaten red
in the air of a floodlit winter.
But here, under the deepest of azures,
unmitigated sun inflames the head
for sickness-assuaging isotonic Lucozade
to wrestle in the breaks.
New to harmonious, long standing friends,
well meaning as they ordered and cajoled,
my normal game was gone. No drifting
between the lines, quick bursts or goals,
just chasing around to fill the gaps
and win the tournament.
Through to the final,
I’m surplus to requirements
now absent carriers of doubts
and distant weaknesses – past infirmities –
have found the WhatsApp group,
bantering and healed.
1950s The Corinthian Casual approach
A gentle trot
Back to the centre spot
In white and black
With just a pat on the back
1960s The Peter Osgood approach
He gives a turn and a thump
Then a punch and a jump
On a pitch that’s a mess
(Like that teacher in “Kes”)
1970s The Mexican approach
Cartwheels and forays
From vaulting Señores
In two Mundiales
1980s The Klinsmann approach
How does he contrive
This spectacular dive?
They accused him of shamming
But now Juergen’s just hamming
1990s The Proud Dad approach
Romario and his lot
Cradling a cot
Rock a bye baby
Is it memorable? Maybe
The “Silence the crowd” approach
He runs round the back
And smirks at the pack
One finger to nose
Saying ssssshh as he goes
The Hull City approach
No half-time break
For punishment’s sake
They sit with a frown
For a right dressing-down
The Man City approach
If he’s feeling a bit ratty
He just does some karate
On the flag and its post
Like he’s punching some ghost
Then the critics said “Ouch”
When they saw Peter Crouch
They all looked askance
At his robotic dance
and lastly … The glide
He slides ‘cross the pitch
Excavating a ditch
With one final pivot
Watch the high-flying divot
… Olé !