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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.
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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
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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