Instinct control on a pitch so waterlogged
we could have kayaked: well just forget it.
Who wouldn’t slide in where they shouldn’t,
emerging from a coal mine lagoon
every form of slate seems to blacken?
Make a wall and break it up. Huddle after kick-off
so the opposition run in V formation,
move in echelons towards the goal, sinking.
Did it cross the line? Well no-one can see.
That doesn’t mean it didn’t.
A new kid crossed himself before the swamp,
had Messi on his back like a redundant continent
swept beneath a viaduct, an eagle losing to pigeons
before they even mobbed him up. Game over,
young Lionel’s a washed-up vagrant
through initiation, other boys’ customs.
They accepted him, no question.
Launch it, just launch it high and trip
over one another as you scramble
to where you feel you need to be.
All the chalk has broken anyway,
the blackboard stand has woodworm
and the stepping stones to the clubhouse
are underwater. So comically,
the coach sits with his iPad for a debrief,
a technically advanced grass-island
post-mortem. ‘Listen boys,
the conditions were tough out there today
and what was said this morning
doesn’t hold this afternoon.
Don’t get me wrong lads, we’ll play on the carpet
next time, follow our principles
when the earth dries out.’