Character Building? (For Me Uncle Steve).

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 The winning was easy
Or so we all thought
Til the day winning ceased
When our egos were scorched.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 The nuns at the convent decided
That St Vincents (us) should have a school team
So desparate were we to be in the side
That our team inspired bouts of day dreaming.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 A real coach to the match was some break for us brats
From the football-less stuck back in class
It turned out that the sisters had asked God to act
For some guidance for us out on the (ash) grass.

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 Three nil, five nil, full of it
We were coasting along without fear
Til one Saturday morn on a pink cinders pitch
We crashed down to earth – ash on our ears.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Every shot fired seemed to fly in
That they hungrily aimed at our goal
In desperation I prayed to me idol Lev Yashin
“Oi Lev comrade, get me out of this hole?”

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 The shots that I stopped were plain lucky
In truth they just hit me and hard
Yet me shattered young mates thought me plucky,
As the other side tore us apart.

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 Bordering on tears, aching, in fear
That something might break from a shot
I looked to me mates for a sign or a cheer
Whilst praying the slaughter would stop.

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 Injuries sullenly came out of nowhere
As cute team-mates decided enough
There woz “Sir can I go to the bog over there?”
Or “Please sir I’m in pain take me off”

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 Uncle Steve, shoulders back, came toward me
Saw I was beat, near to tears and in pain
“Ere Kev give me that jumper, Oi ref it’s change goalie”
I played out-field for the rest of the game.

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 The goal feast ceased as the other side retreated
Sure and weren’t fourteen-nought, enough goals?
And the lesson our fate taught me that day:
In defeat, Uncle Steve was me hero!


This poem takes place on Clapham Common,London, circa 1962. Our school has it’s first ever football team and after the first two games had resulted in victories, we we’re the the bees knee’s. Mornings at assembly after we won those two games, when our names were read out in front of the whole school by one of the sisters, we felt like Gods.

Then this Saturday morning the wheels come off of the pram..big time, as that season’s eventual champions simply hammer us without mercy.

If me Uncle Steve, who’s a month older than me and was in the team, hadn’t been there and asked the ref to let him go in goal and take over from me, I don’t know what I would have done,coz the rest of the team sure as hell wern’t going to volunteer to go in goal, and risk their tender young lives and limbs, were they? The sods!

A wonderful albeit painful memory about growing up.



Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/character-building-for-me-uncle-steve/