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On winter nights you’d take me to the football.
Through dark, terraced streets huddled in their ruins
beneath the floodlights, wrought iron hammered by men and bent to the sky.
Inside, piss and beer puddled the concrete,
Chanting voices ebbed and roared.
I watch a far off fight, the crowd parting then surging, like seaweed in the surf.
Then home, the metronome of windscreen wipers, rain battering the glass.
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To grow old is to slowly become a stranger.
An old women drifts past unseen,
still hearing the piano,
voices raised in song.
The tide went out a long time ago and never came back.
She walks through what wreckage is left, sifting the flotsam for anything old, anything old.
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I still go to the football sometimes.
Buy my ticket online,
then sit, thousands strangely muted,
watching rich young foreign men kick a ball.
Above the skies darken and it rains, and, as I walk away,
oil slicks the pavement rainbows in the gutter,
till finally, in the cracks of the city,
the Millstone, the Unicorn,
I wash up, battered and gasping.
Then, the floor still heaving beneath us,
we sit round the fire and share our stories,
clinging to the past, clutching to our pints.