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A Poem For Ari (aged 8 months)

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 1 In the beginning we kicked stones
against brick walls.
Drawing the man, we slide tackled
on broken glass.
Our stadium was a damp, cobbled alley
lit by street lamps.
Burnden Park rattled and roared with
every skilled pass.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 I proudly wore the number 31 as
a badge of honour.
We were part of the awkward squad,
the school’s best team.
The photo shows a gang of youths unsure
where the spotlight shines,
But not Mick and me: looking into the distance
we dared to dream.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 Mick came on as a sub against Man City,
roomed with Big Sam:
And by then I had failed my trial and
cried from the heart.
But true passions never die, they are
just redirected:
Now my life’s defeats and victories are
there in my art.

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 Much is contrived and Pythonesque in
this beautiful game,
And in all of life’s small rewards
for which we fight:
Yet the striving, the desire, can survive
those empty stadiums
With replays proving the ref wrong
even when he is right.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Now my son’s red studs are flying as
he marks each man,
Equitably learning to deal with
the hand of God.
He cannot predict the final score but
this much he knows:
Play hard, play fair, and you’ll always find
a place in the squad.

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 Ambitions, disregarded like lost clothing
on a muddy pitch,
And certainties fade; and the goalposts
will constantly move;
And you, Ari, a new prospect, will be clocked
by armchair punters
Who will see what you are, what you do,
and then disapprove.

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 Each day young dreamers have their hopes
dashed unfairly,
And brick walls and broken glass
still block their way.
But in life, kid, there are no hurdles,
only challenges:
Find space, create, adapt, give your all; and
live better each day.

12

Notes

This was written for my friend H’s nephew who at the time was new to the family’s starting line up. H had a trial with Bolton Wanderers but his life then took a different path. He is now highly respected as a football coach as well as being a successful artist. He recently led a fundraising campaign to raise nearly £60k for the Huracan Foundation, a charity that supports underprivileged children worldwide through football.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/a-poem-for-ari-aged-8-months/