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Often, I am permitted to return to a football pitch

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 As if it were a scene made up by the mind,
That is not mine, but is a place maintained by a groundsman,
Goalmouth gaping, players assembled
That is mine, so near to the heart, ready for play
An eternal acre or so folded in all movement,
So that there is a ball therein
That is a made place, raised by floodlights
Wherefrom the shadows of the players fall
Wherefrom fall all the stadia I am
All likenesses of The First Game of Football
Whose goalposts are flames lit to all games
And all those who play, who have played or wish to play
Or who watch and to all who understand
Whose games are a disturbance of teams within a world
That is a field folded.
It is only a dream of the grass blowing
And players’ urging and acting in the game
Whose secret we see in a children’s game
By Roy of the Rovers told.
Often I am permitted to return to a football pitch
Across white lines and into the playing area
As if it were a given property of the mind
That certain bounds hold against chaos,
That is a place of first permission to play
Everlasting omen of the joy
That it is to play, to watch
And to be.

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Notes

Robert Duncan wrote Very Serious Poetry. Covid 19 is a Very Serious Moment. But as I was reading this poem for the first time very recently, the idea of restarted football emerged from somewhere. Duncan’s writing was partly about places in one’s imagination to which one might retreat to gain protection or sustenance. A football match of some description is never far from my imagination, and walking past empty pitches at the moment is one of the daily minor heartbreaks of this terrible pandemic. Remembered and anticipated football one of its balms.

After Robert Duncan (Often I am permitted to return to a meadow)

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/often-i-am-permitted-to-return-to-a-football-pitch/