The Goalie

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 He wasn’t a big bloke
But agile, seemed to be able to make him self twice his size
By moving and leaping
Nudging one over the top like a six-footer
Next minute down like a plummet at a centre-forward’s feet
Plucking the ball off his toes.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 He had a sense of humour too:
Something you need in February when the ball’s bogged down in midfield mud
The wind cuts in off the moors
The sleet slices you in two
And all you can do is stand there
Stamping your feet and blowing your hands and
Bone cold.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 Fingers stiffen and turn blue.
Oh for some action to get the blood racing again.
But you know that when it does and if you have to catch it or palm it the wet leather will sting
And the fingers will hurt
Even through a glove.

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 Suddenly the ball, heavy and leaden
Breaks through the mud
The stocky forward nips between the backs and with a glance
Crashes one in from the edge of the box.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Too cold to leap like a salmon
He feels more like a seal
His cold wet weight struggling to defy gravity
The ball bends past him –
Motionless – just off his line
It loops over his groping arm
Away into icy eternity….
But no – double-jointed curving back his circus fingertips
Spine stretching as on a racking machine
Chilled sinews groaning and creaking
He tips it on to the bar with a ringing thud.

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 The ball spins away into touch.
The old crossbar jerks off its stanchions
And falling strikes him on the forehead as he tumbles back over the line.
Staggers back into the netting, dazed and reeling, the crossbar lands across his body.
We rush towards him. St John’s have the stretcher in hand
And are half-way to the goalmouth –
Head injuries can be serious, even for a goalie.

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 Silver sunlight teases a winter moment of rainbow dapple.
From out of the tangled mass of black netting, caught like a wriggling trout in a landing net,
Suddenly, from under a bloody, muddy nose
Teeth like piano ivories grin through the lattice.
“Ayup” he says “Does my bum look big in this?”.


A legacy of days when if I wasn’t standing in the goalmouth freezing as a lad, I was freezing on the side of a field watching the big lads and their miner dads play for the local working men’s club sides. I started off as a left back, but in a side in which the midfield was so good I hardly saw the ball. I moved into goal for the warm jumpers. I won a medal there, letting in 2 goals in 20 games, but my eyesight deteriorated to the point where I let in 15 in one game and effectively retired from the position. At that point, love of football undimmed, despite one legendary game for the Co-op Dairy against the Milk Marketing Board in which I scored one then went in goal and made our second from a quick goalmouth clearance that fooled their defence, I nevertheless took up rugby. It was warm in the scrum, and you really don’t want to see what’s going on in there.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-goalie/