I still hear the ebb and plunge
of 1980s vintage Roker Roar
booming like the winter tide around my skull
as I played marbles outside, too young
and too poor to get in on my own.
The names of players are far away and lost,
obscured by the effervescent sheen of Quinn,
or Phillips, hammering home a goal,
but watching the team play now, on TV, alone,
I remember the post-match exuberance of whole
tribes of men retreating from a week of work,
careering pubwards and in full song,
recession biting, but not yet drawing blood,
who’d buy me lemonades or kets and use the public phone
to call their bookies if the result was right.
I’d cycle home on sugar-powered wheels,
high on the stories of the day’s success,
dreaming my own version of the match
and building up, with stickers, pens and paint,
my own, imaginary, stadiums of light.