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.
The day you dreaded came to be
And in its wake for all to see
The history so swift destroyed
The club and those who they employed
The rollercoaster ups and downs
The team had ridden in this town
The sadness ev’ry true fan knows
The moment when an old ground goes
Discarded wooden seats in stands
Where once sat faithful cloth-capped fans
Who clapped and moaned and sung in here
And dreamt success would soon appear
To ev’ry goal they ever saw
And though they long for just one more
Abandoned floodlights pierce the sky
As one more ground now waves goodbye
The memories encased in tears
The wins and losses down the years
The programme seller in the street
The unknown fans you’d often meet
The weeds between the concrete steps
The twisted posts and perished nets
The pitch so sad and overgrown
The home for decades we have known
This special sacred meeting place
This focal point on Saturdays
This source of noise and anarchy
That meant so much to you and me
But now it lies and fades with time
This home that once was yours and mine
That some developer will try
To turn to housing by and by
And though we will go on somehow
Way out of town and sterile now
A stadium that looks just the same
As many that now grace the game
We won’t forget the times we spent
The barriers on which we leant
This special place where dreams were shared
Where disappoitnent often reared
But none as sad as each fan knows
The moment when an old ground goes
For Adrian Henri (1932-2000)
The worn flagstones of Mount Street
opposite the Liverpool Institute
— the head’s office, I remember
his cabinet full of silver trophies
as he turned me down as a new pupil;
30 years later, I sat on your settee
at 21 Mount Street, a cabinet with a dead
magpie in it, garlanded with paste jewelry
as I drank coffee with connie onnie
and listened to your rich Liverpool accent:
Adrian, pop artist, pop poet,
one of the triumvirate of Sixties
“Liverpool Poets” Henri, McGough, Patten;
you stayed while Roger and Brian decamped
to “The Smoke”–but you were the first to die,
debilitated after your stroke,
your big body wasted but still–
as in your poetry and your artwork,
“I Want To Paint–” as you painted
the football field of bouquets
after the Hillsborough tragedy of ’89:
“Flowers for Liverpool.”
Yes! every Spring, every day,
it’s flowers for Adrian.
As I carry the ball forward
I survey all ahead of me – options to the left and to the right
All angles of opportunity…
Or, I consider the direct approach
Like a dagger to the heart
A full frontal assault on the target – a goal to decimate the opposition!
And behind me?
I leave behind the beleaguered
The shouters – those wanting to belittle me, to disrupt me
To unhinge me, to frighten me, to put me down
Those who try to disparage, to hurt, to blurt…
Body shaming slurs / “retard” / “snowflake” / “clown”
Or worse still
Picking out what makes me different
And using it as a barb, to obstruct, or stop me in my tracks
But all it does is urge me on
I’m conscious we’re in a bubble
Wrapped in concrete and steel
But conscious too, that societal ills
Have seeped into our playscape
Is all this vitriol meant?
Or is it a dint of devilment, a tool to disturb and blunt, the sharpness I bring
Merchant ship cranes
unloading their grain
Confederate ships built at Cammell Lairds
opposite sits the Liver Birds
Ferries glide across the Mersey
supporters wear their red or blue jerseys
high above the Albert dock
cathedral bells peal over their flocks
The world’s greatest seafaring city
land of the Beatles and birth of the sixties
today’s excitement is its calm reflection
designer walks and regeneration
New Brighton to Seacombe a fair old stride
a pint at Egremont by the tide
Fort Perch Rock out to Liverpool Bay
to the west, West Kirby and old Hoylake
How many people can claim that
breaking their leg
saved their life
Seconds from signing for those Red Devils
shattered bones stunned the cheering crowds
on that Saturday afternoon
put paid to those Korean battlefields
Well convalesced and working for the GPO
manning the top floor midnight Dial Tower shift
he took the call from the cold
and broke the news first of more broken bones
The Half-Time team talk that had to be good
to turn what looked like certain defeat around.
I was once a youth team manager of Tring Tornadoes U/16s
we had led the league the whole season undefeated
but we had another local side hot on our heels.
They had lost one match at our ground earlier in the season
and were just 2 points behind us going into the last match,
with the final game at their ground .
They went for a 9.30 am kick off on a Sunday morning,
with a 40 minute journey and to be ready for kick off
I had to get fifteen 16 year olds up at 7 am
to be ready to go at 7.45 am, not an easy task!
But to a young man they were all ready to go.
At half time we were 2-0 down!
So my half time talk would have to be good.
It would have to be different, exceptional and memorable!
So what do you think I said? I said:
“Lads we have had a great season,
undefeated before this match and we have been top all season.
But with Stokenchurch’s’ gamesmanship
going for an early morning kick off on a Sunday morning,
it has caught us half asleep in the first half.
We know we can play much better than this
so we have to play our hearts out
if we are going to turn this game around.
We have to wake up and start the second half running
and keep it going until the final whistle.
I believe if we play like we can we can do it.
Put it this way, it’s like we have been to a very posh restaurant
and had a fantastic main course, but the restaurant manager
has just told there are only enough desserts/ puddings for one team
and they were going to serve them to you, as you were top of the league.
But now Stokenchurch are top of the league,
they have nicked our puddings and there are non for you, as it stands.
So are you going to let them nick your puddings
or are you going to go out there and nick them back and say
get off those puddings they are ours? “
The team laughed as did the assistant manager and parents
listening in to my half time team talk
“So come on lads get out there and get those puddings back,
they belong to you , not our arch rivals Stokenchurch.”
Within ten minutes of the second half we scored !
“Come on lads I shouted, think about the puddings”
Their team hadn’t a clue what I was talking about.
Some of our lads were smiling.
Thirty minutes in we equalise 2-2 , the comeback was on.
“Come on lads we can get those puddings they belong to us!
We are top of the league not them”
Fifteen minutes to go, end to end stuff, a draw would be enough,
but a defeat wouldn’t.
We would end runners up after leading all season.
One last big shout from me:
“Come on Tring Tornadoes you can do it!
Let’s take this game, we have got them!
Take the puddings off them! “
And we do just that within minutes of the final whistle, we score again.
3-2 to us ! We hold on for what looked like an impossible come back.
We won the league at Stokenchurch!
You should have seen their manager’s face and their team and parents.
They thought it was in the bag.
but they didn’t know I had one special half time team talk up my sleeve:
‘the pudding talk’…and it worked!
That was 21 years ago now,
but I expect not one of those lads
have ever forgotten Mr Icke’s pudding talk.
On the way home with the League Cup Winners Cup on the table,
I treated all the boys to a big ‘fry up breakfast’ at Tesco
I’m not sure how many went for the black pudding option but it didn’t matter now,
that the Half Time team talk had made such a difference
and we won the league at Stokenchurch!”
© Simon Icke
Touchline shouting, that’s all I ever hear,
I’m so confused and filled with fear.
I’m only ten years old and football should be fun,
But with all this noise I don’t know which way to run.
“Get back in defence!” my manager shouts.
Dad shouts, “Get up front and deal with these louts!”
Loud mouth supporter, who knows all the rules.
(He takes the rest of us for fools)
Shouts, “What are you doing lad? Your head’s in a spin!”
Is it any surprise, with all this din?
I am only a boy, so why do you all try to destroy, what I’d love to enjoy?
FOOTBALL SHOULD BE FUN!
© Simon Icke
give it up for trav’lling fans
endless trips across the land
sussing out the cheapest ways
midweek games or Saturdays
turning up in wind and rain
through ther heartaches and the pain
stuck in queues on motorways
this is how they spend their days
all the hassles that they face
soaking wet all stood in place
trav’lling fans know what it means
to support the club and team
getting up at break of dawn
journeys long through gales and storms
getting there but all alone
finding out the game’s postponed
searching for a bite to eat
standing up or in your seat
always there through thick and thin
that elation when you win
taking rough times with the smooth
devastation when you lose
you can see them ev’ry time
in their scarves and shirts so fine
sometimes they’re the loudest ones
sometimes they are just outsung
but to those who only go
to the games we play at home
trav’lling fans will always be
key to football’s family
I travelled to Edinburgh
in 2003 to see Hearts’ ground
Tynecastle and my childhood club
During my travels I have seen
I would stay forever in
the Princes Street
But that was the wish
The history of one club
of Bosnia and Herzegovina is
recorded in Edinburgh
Hearts hosted Velez Mostar
A few years later there were
sad events in Mostar
But many people there remember
When Hearts welcomed me
I had so little time
I only went to Tynecastle
and saw Princes Street
I would dream
of the Princes Street always
I know that Hibs are existing as rivals of Hearts in Edinburgh
But in the same way
Juventus and Torino exist
God bless Princes Street
Standing in the paddock as the goals go in
one two the cheers begin
Halftime whistle then start again
Pushing forward more of the same
Three four crowd shout for more
Visiting fans heading for the door
Five then six we go home happy
Clinical play nothing scrappy
Can we play you every week
Now that would be fun
Standing in the paddock as the goals go in.