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Football In The Trenches (revisited)

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 When War broke out, the British public cried
“We’ll be in Berlin by Christmas”.
But by Christmas hundreds of thousands had died,
As Mons, The Marne, Ypres and Messine cut
Down the youth of Europe, while Flanders’ flood
Drowned dying, dead and alive. Summer’s dream
Was swamped by winter’s mud, rats, death and blood
In No Man’s Land; a hell hole night mare scene
Of jagged wire, flares, shells, screams and shrapnel,
(A choreographed commonality
That saw each side’s men attack, flail and fall
In ceaseless dance of death’s banality)
Until, at Christmas, nineteen fourteen, when
Hamburg, Berlin, London and Manchester
Said “No!” to the killing fields’ mad mayhem
Ordered by Kaiser, Flag, Map and Officer,
And met instead in friendship, walking tall
And slow, comrades in war’s adversities,
They embraced in No Man’s Land and Football
Harmonised nations’ animosities;
And what if the playing of the Peoples’ Game
Had continued beyond that Christmas time?
What on earth would have happened next?
Well, I suggest to you that none of the following
Would have occurred –
The Battle of the Somme; Verdun; The Bolshevik Revolution;
The Russian Civil War; Stalin; Hitler; Fascism; World War Two;
Nuclear weapons; the Cold War; Remembrance Day;
Think about it.
And play the Peoples’ Game.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 © Stuart Butler – 2000

Many of you will have seen this poem on the ‘old’ original site before but I have re-launched it here for posterity and personal reasons. I was also surpised to find it not listed under Stu’s poem and realised it was only hidden in the archives. I love the words, sentiment and questions in this poem, for all its horror and starkness .Hearing Stuart perform this again with such passion at The Off The Shelf Festival in Sheffield in October evoked so much. It drummed home and underlined, just how different the situation in Iraq is today. In these oh so politically correct times, to me there will always be a need each December to remember a rare spontaneous moment in time like this. Crispin

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/football-in-the-trenches-revisited/