how apt the snow outside today like some cup-tie of old
as the news comes over
too late to ask why too numb to cry
what was it Parkie said?
“you never knew how good you were
or how good you could have been”
but it’s down that touchline and leaving defenders strewn like trees
that I’ll remember you Best
and I can stil recall that day the first time i saw you
16th March 1963 Old Trafford Man U v Chelsea
we were fifteen me and Vince Pierce
school mates and blue through and through
on the train and up for the Cup
but you – you tore us apart and we were left
clutching silver paper and cardboard cups with dreams in shreds
peering and gasping behind that old white wooden fence
a red blur of cheek skill and impudence
Charlton and Law alongside sleeves in hands
that talent shining
we never wanted it to end like this of course
” I hope my plight’s a warning to others” you said
fading ashen and grey
some legend though you were on and off the green
and its out there destroying Benfica single-footed
and dancing through mud at Northampton
poaching six cheekily rounding that hapless keeper
then stopping on the line to give a salute first
you wanted to lie down on the ground and nod it in
you said later
but you thought it might not go down too well
so naughty was Georgie
lying down forever now
strange too to think in barely six sweet seasons
and 115 goals in 290 games
you became Belfast’s favourite son
the fifth Beatle – looks to die for
you were the one we all wanted to look like
inventing celebrity with a ball a swagger and style
skipping and dancing with impudent skill
you had it all – you thrilled us all
you squandered it all
preferring to burn out brightly
rather than fade away
“I go missing a lot” you once said
“Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom,Miss World!”
now it’s us missing you
wine women and gone
but it’s those goals those dribbles
and your football grace and cheek
THE BELFAST BOY
Even the most football-loathing pygmy
From the deepest recesses of Timbuktu
Sit up and take notice
Of the beauty
That can be created
By the gentle art
Of booting a ball around a football pitch.
Created dreams for millions of people,
Who didn’t know
That the human body
Could create such
With the merest twist of an ankle…
The slightest bend of a knee…
The simple act
Up and down a pitch.
You didn’t need to be
A fan of his team
The awe-inspiring style
This genius created
Like a modern-day
He was a lesson to everybody
Who doesn’t know
How gifted they are
In their own unique way.
Are more gifted
But we are all
Capable of reaching
Our own personal Nirvana
If we cover
Every last blade of grass.
People in his homeland
With which foot
Somebody kicks with.
But future generations
Will tell tales
About the greatest feet
That anybody from this province ever kicked with –
The incomparable feet
Of the man
Put Northern Ireland on the map.
The greatest footballer
This world has ever seen
Will be remembered
Long after we mere mortals
Have gone up to that great
Elysian football field
In the sky.
Not bad, for a wee boy from Belfast!
To people in the furthest-flung
Corners of the world,
He IS Northern Ireland.
If you mention Northern Ireland
To a Tibetan monk or an Eskimo…
The first two words they say are:
SIMPLY THE BEST
With a swerve and a shimmy
he escapes the clutches
of yet another hatchet man
hell-bent on breaking him in half.
A burst of blistering pace
sends him clear of a ragged rearguard;
defenders trailing in his wake;
bemused and befuddled by his brilliance.
And then the goals:
sublime chip over covering defender,
dazzling run and calm, slotted finish,
ball taken round Benfica keeper.
Twinkle in his eye never brighter,
impish grin never wider
than when he threw mud at the ref,
nodded the ball out of Banks’ hands.
Heads bowed at grounds
up and down the land.
Fans and players united to
pay tribute to a football genius.
Remembering the slim, slight figure,
not the gaunt, husk of a man
staring out from the tabloids,
life slowly ebbing away.
Picture the scene:
George in football heaven,
pitting his wits against the wily Moore;
two legends doing battle again.