When your plans are stationary
like a boat tied up at the dock
inexorably, you just can’t get going
without buttering up the ref’
by learning about his name, his family,
his route convoluted by temporary traffic-
lights shifting around the b-roads
by the viaduct. ‘Blending the Truth’
was such a strange choice of car sticker
but let it ride. He’s in charge of the time,
marginal offsides, atmospheres at sea level
he wants to see in the ball’s approximation
of ‘official size and weight.’ Two cans
of Nanny State at the end of the game
you’ll present to him to combine
for an ABV of one percent.
‘You all support Mansfield’
chanted at Chesterfield fans at Saltergate
was all we could muster that day
on the fullest of full away terraces,
‘It’s just like watching Mansfield’
they shot back after some friendly laughs
and we couldn’t disagree.
No buttering up
of the ref’ in utility rooms
with a raspberry tart or Nanny State would work.
He didn’t mind if you knew or didn’t know
his name at Saltergate, if you cared about his
‘Truth Blender’ car advert or not,
if all your plans were tied up at the dock
or like fruit tarts in asbestos.
‘You all support Mansfield’ wouldn’t sway him
to respond to humour and every mistake
was ultimately minor or well meant
so we’d have to forget psychological games
and submit to the laws of the game,
the first and second phase
of marginal offsides and other restrictions
to a field of play we wouldn’t change.