Layer Road, 1971

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Arrowing over the skies to the deep wilds of Essex
to the unfamiliarity of the compact, concrete dressing room
its confines offering comfort from the crowd, the cold,
the February wind screaming across the bare park

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 Skeletons of winter trees frame the low slung stands
heaving, expectant crush, amassed at narrowed sidelines
touching distance from a timid winger or full back
an air of defiance, menace, possibility, intent

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 The stiffness of the gale, the hardness of the surface
the unpredictability of the bounce of the drab, grey ball
its randomness fired by ferocity in duel and challenge;
the play one-sided, rewarding the freedom from fear

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 Inevitably, the knife twists and turns; flying sideburns
torment and torture, punishing the hesitant, the harried
exploiting the tender space, the no man’s land, the waste
between keeper’s green and the white of the broken back line

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Too late the rally, the resumption of service normal
the smooth efficiency returns, battling time and desperation
jabbing but not punching, dominating but not triumphing
over the occasion, the elements, the bravery of the victors

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 Why this frailty, this brittleness, this vulnerability
the soft underbelly, probed through the spines, the armour.
A side so gifted, constructed so completely
Felled too often by the sweep of some hand of fate

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/layer-road-1971/