The Rime of the Middle Aged Shelbourne Fan

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 (A very long poem of sin and redemption)

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 (The Middle-aged Shelbourne fan accosts supporters outside the ground)

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 The Tolka floodlights lit the night,
Four beacons to resilience,
To bring the faithful to the light
And bathe them in their brilliance.

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 Outside of Shelbourne Football Club,
The people started queuing,
Not for them the local pubs
With pints and pints accruing.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 They’d come from points both east and west
To see their team performing,
For Irish Springtime snugly dressed
With hats both red and warming.

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 Along the queue there strolled a man,
As strange as strange could be.
It was a middle-aged Shelbourne fan
Who stoppeth one of three.

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 “Oh heed these words by silver’d moon,
And listen while I talk!”
“Lay off thy hand, thou bearded loon,
Or art thou Tom from Cork?”

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 Along the line he made his way,
Shrugged off with great disdain,
Trying but to have his say
With those who queued outside to pay,
But lo! he tried in vain.

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 Each third man turned with oaths expressed,
Each one without exception,
Until he spied a Wedding Guest
Who’d strayed from the reception

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 The shirt was creased upon his chest,
Carnation pale and sickly.
The wretch approached the Wedding Guest
And buttonholed him quickly.

11 Leave a comment on verse 11 0 He laid a hand upon his arm
And scratched his tangled beard.
“Do not recoil – I mean no harm,
Retain thy inner strength and calm
And do not be afeared.”

12 Leave a comment on verse 12 0 “Oh bearded loon,” the guest replied.
“Pray tell me now – what is it?
That you’ve a tale can’t be denied –
I hope it is exquisite.”

13 Leave a comment on verse 13 0 And, prey to this hypnotic spell,
The Wedding Guest grew still.
Deep within a trance he fell,
Subsumed by greater will.

14 Leave a comment on verse 14 0 The turnstiles clicked, the queue moved on,
Good-natured, not complaining,
Till all the crowd were in and gone,
Along with Tosh, the Papillon,
With but these two remaining.

15 Leave a comment on verse 15 0 The PA man announced the team,
Each name recived a plaudit.
The Wedding Guest, as in a dream,
Blinked slowly and ignored it.

16 Leave a comment on verse 16 0 And thus began the curious tale
Of wrong and retribution
That left the Wedding Guest quite pale
Until its resolution.

17 Leave a comment on verse 17 0 (The Middle-Aged Shelbourne fan begins to narrate his story.)

18 Leave a comment on verse 18 0 “A Shelbourne fan I am in truth
Way back since Harold’s Cross,
When as a pimply, fresh-faced youth
With Wicklow brogue and words uncouth
I mourned each Shelbourne loss.

19 Leave a comment on verse 19 0 “Then good times came, the League, the Cup,
What trophies Fortune gave!
Our star was greatly on the up
We crested ev’ry wave.

20 Leave a comment on verse 20 0 “For fourteen years, we led the way,
With e’er a forward motion,
As cutty as a Cutty Sark
Upon a cutty ocean.

21 Leave a comment on verse 21 0 “To Rosenberg and Hadjuk Split,
‘Gainst Brondby and ‘gainst Rangers,
We steadfastly refused to quit
And held heads high ‘mongst strangers.

22 Leave a comment on verse 22 0 “The rumours sneered behind our backs,
They claimed we’d overspent,
They said the great financial axe
Would wield great punishment.

23 Leave a comment on verse 23 0 “But on we sailed our charted course,
With ne’er a leak suspected,
A potent and impressive force
That everyone respected.

24 Leave a comment on verse 24 0 “My tale of unimagined woes
Began this last November.
The night that we defeated Bohs,
A night I well remember.

25 Leave a comment on verse 25 0 “Upon that cold and tension’d day,
A victory was vital,
To keep the Derry hordes at bay
And claim another title.

26 Leave a comment on verse 26 0 “Against an uninspired Bohs,
Great focussing was needed
But Williams dropped one on his toes
And lo! We had conceded.

27 Leave a comment on verse 27 0 (His first encounter with The Bird)

28 Leave a comment on verse 28 0 “And as great silence swam around
And angry mouths were foamin,’
Upon the stand across the ground
I spied a bird of omen.

29 Leave a comment on verse 29 0 “Hunched up he was upon the roof,
Surveying every movement.
A darkened shape, disturbed, aloof,
Immune to our improvement.

30 Leave a comment on verse 30 0 “Oh curséd bird,” I muttered soft,
“Become a happy wand’rer.”
And at my words, it soared aloft
And vanished o’er Dromcondra.

31 Leave a comment on verse 31 0 “Well, hist’ry shows we battled hard
And scored the goals required.
Our heroes sank down battle-scarred,
Emotionally tired.

32 Leave a comment on verse 32 0 “The fireworks flew, the music blared,
The silver cup was lifted.
Throughout the ground great joy was shared
And many pints were shifted.

33 Leave a comment on verse 33 0 “Guinness, Guinness everywhere
And not a drop of water.
To sweet relief from deep despair –
We lurried down the porter.

34 Leave a comment on verse 34 0 (Drunk and deliriously happy, he sleeps on a park bench)

35 Leave a comment on verse 35 0 “Next morning, after quite a few
I woke up in the park.
The mist was on the morning dew,
Faint sunlight battled dark.

36 Leave a comment on verse 36 0 “I shivered as the icy morn
Attacked my beer-stained shirt,
My trouser legs were scuffed and torn
And stiff with matted dirt.

37 Leave a comment on verse 37 0 “I rose and bade my bench goodbye
(Oh comfortable bed!)
A lonely seagull gave a cry,
Above in a rumbustuous sky,
And circled overhead.

38 Leave a comment on verse 38 0 “My throbbing head could stand no more
“Shut up!” I faintly cried.
“Go seek the debris ‘pon the shore
Brought in upon the tide.”

39 Leave a comment on verse 39 0 “But no, the bird seemed joined to me,
As though it were a kite.
It squawked with an apparent glee
And mocked me from a height.

40 Leave a comment on verse 40 0 “I soldiered on, my head in pain,
Dogged by this witless bird
That piercing squawk, again, again,
Was all that could be heard.

41 Leave a comment on verse 41 0 “Through mist-strewn streets, I made my way,
Not knowing where I trod,
Untouched by that sweet light of day,
Half-hidden e’en from God.

42 Leave a comment on verse 42 0 “And though my heart was swelled with pride
At how we’d won the League,
Each time that dev’lish sea bird cried,
It doubled my fatigue.

43 Leave a comment on verse 43 0 “Till, looking up I’d spied the place
Wherein we’d celebrated.
‘Twas Tolka Park – sweet field of grace –
Now cold and dark and gated.

44 Leave a comment on verse 44 0 (The Middle Aged Shelbourne fan kills the bird and is instantly seized by remorse.)

45 Leave a comment on verse 45 0 “Upon its gate, the seagull perched,
With squawk now quite distended.
Once more, my head and stomach lurched
And then the mist descended.

46 Leave a comment on verse 46 0 “I bent and snatched a sharpened stone
And, glancing all around me,
Made sure that I was all alone,
With just that bird to hound me.

47 Leave a comment on verse 47 0 “I flung the stone with fearsome force,
My mind still dull and blurred
And thus, without the least remorse,
I killed that mocking bird.

48 Leave a comment on verse 48 0 “I tapped it with a nervous toe,
As all my fury fled.
I urged it to rise up and go,
I wished it were not dead.

49 Leave a comment on verse 49 0 “But as my blood began to pall,
I clutched my necklaced cross.
‘Twas not a seagull after all –
It was an albatross.

50 Leave a comment on verse 50 0 “I knelt there ‘neath the darkened sky,
And cursed the shifting sands,
Then gazing down I found that I
Had blood upon my hands.

51 Leave a comment on verse 51 0 “I sprung to feet, aghast at how
Much pain I had incurred.
‘Twas not so much a sacred cow,
‘Twas more a sacred bird.

52 Leave a comment on verse 52 0 “I clasped a hand against my head
And gave a gasp of pain,
For, burned upon my skin, blood-red,
I etched the mark of Cain.

53 Leave a comment on verse 53 0 “I staggered off in mighty haste,
Down streets now dark and blurred,
While in my mouth the rotting taste
Of coarsely-murdered bird.
Oh how my soaring pulse-beat raced
When that foul deed occurred.

54 Leave a comment on verse 54 0 “I stumbled home and fell inside
And groped for the hand basin.
I filled it up both deep and wide
And plunged my burning face in.

55 Leave a comment on verse 55 0 “But though I washed and scrubbed and scraped,
The bloodstain burned out stronger.
And from my mouth a scream escaped
When I could scrub no longer.

56 Leave a comment on verse 56 0 “Upon the bathroom floor I fell,
My mind thrown vicey-versey,
Descended into living hell,
Wherein there was no mercy.

57 Leave a comment on verse 57 0 (There are repercussions)

58 Leave a comment on verse 58 0 “The bird, I heard (‘twas quite absurd,)
Lay untouched for a week.
A testament to what occurred,
A portent sad and bleak.

59 Leave a comment on verse 59 0 “Eventually the Council came
And threw it in a sack,
Well-heralded as Shelbourne’s shame,
A mark now murky-black.

60 Leave a comment on verse 60 0 “And one by one, the players were gone,
Their loyalties transferred,
Though no-one seemed to blame it on
The fate of that poor bird.

61 Leave a comment on verse 61 0 “They said we had too many bills,
They said we could not play.
Lack of money oft instils
The urge to run away.

62 Leave a comment on verse 62 0 “The manager packed up his things
And headed out the door.
Hark! How loud a dead bird sings
It’s squawk turned to a roar.

63 Leave a comment on verse 63 0 “No players, coach, a crippling debt –
The FAI then acted.
Relegated, no regret,
Their pound of flesh exacted.

64 Leave a comment on verse 64 0 “The Euro spot, so hardfought won
Was given o’er to Derry.
All our good work come undone –
‘Twas quite extraordinary.”

65 Leave a comment on verse 65 0 “I fear thee, middle aged Shelbourne fan,
I fear thy skinny hand,
Forsooth it is a troubled man
That stalks this troubled land.”

66 Leave a comment on verse 66 0 “Oh listen well, oh Wedding Guest,
I mean to thee no harm.”
And here he beat his bony breast-
His racked and starving rib-strewn chest –
With one long skinny hand.

67 Leave a comment on verse 67 0 “The clouds remained o’er Tolka Park
With smouldering persistence.
The future insecure and dark.
Would be lose our existence?

68 Leave a comment on verse 68 0 “In smoke-filled rooms, the talks went on
While we all gathered waiting,
Hoping for a sun that shone,
Some fresh air enervating.

69 Leave a comment on verse 69 0 (He seeks to atone for his wrong)

70 Leave a comment on verse 70 0 “Now I’m a middle-aged Shelbourne fan,
The club is my religion
And God, I thought, regardeth Man
The way I view a pigeon.

71 Leave a comment on verse 71 0 “He turns His head whene’er we kneel
And studiously ignores us.
And, in our turn, we can’t conceal
The fact He often bores us.

72 Leave a comment on verse 72 0 “But such was our predicament
And such my tragic guilt
I heard a voice – “Thou must repent
For sacred blood’s been spilt.”

73 Leave a comment on verse 73 0 “I entered slow a holy place
And knelt before the altar.
My eyes were locked on Jesus’ face
And never once did falter.

74 Leave a comment on verse 74 0 “I told him how I’d exorcised
That creature from above.
His face, benign and unsurprised,
Smiled down with radiant love.

75 Leave a comment on verse 75 0 “And as I these sad words did speak,
I felt my stubbly beard.
The blood-stained mark upon my cheek
Grew dim and disappeared.

76 Leave a comment on verse 76 0 “From then, I know all would be well,
I knew I was forgiven,
Plucked from that satanic hell
To which I had been driven.

77 Leave a comment on verse 77 0 “And now I stand by Tolka Park
When fans are lined up queuing.
I hope my warning shines out stark –
Think well on what you’re doing
Or you may end up ruing
The guilt you find accruing.

78 Leave a comment on verse 78 0 “Be kind to man and beast and fowl
And honour thy departed
And face the world, not with a scowl,
But good and open-hearted.”
The Wedding Guest said with a growl,
“The second half has started.”

79 Leave a comment on verse 79 0 But as he walked in through the gate
He turned and waved back sadly.
“Good luck,” he called. “What you relate
Has touched me rather badly.

80 Leave a comment on verse 80 0 “Farewell, oh middle-aged Shelbourne fan,
Your tale I long will ponder.
I know God smiles upon you, man,
Wherever you may wander.”



Editor Note..Just wanted to add our sincere appreciation of Peter’s input in additon to much help from afar with the site..Blimey -1000 football poems. Always a good line to come up with at a party , gig or pub, “What do you do then?” .
“I’m a football poet and I’ve written 1,000 football poems. ”
“Oh right!” Without trawing back to check how long Peter has been contributing, but if it’s from day one on this site, that’s 1000 in 2370 days since June 2000 !!! .Do the math,d big up yourself! and well done mate.” Crispin

Peter note@
2nd milestone in two days!! I thought I’d save this one for the 1,000th poem. Its an extension of “The Rime of the Middle Aged Mariner” which I submitted during the year but have since had deleted. I thought it appropriate number 1000 should be about Shels. I know 1,000 seems a huge amount but as I tell people, some people watch telly, I write, whether its football poetry, other poetry or articles for the local paper. It gives me a great feeling of fulfillment, messing about with words to describe the sport I love. I’m sure some people shudder when they see my name – all I can advise is “Don’t read it!” To all the other poets on here who I find so inspirational – Clik, Eddie Gibbons, Crispin, Number Ten, Darren O’Keeffe, SB Ingle, Parry, Denys EW Jones, Llew Beaton, Alan McKean, Mark Thomas, non Humphries and many more – keep the faith and keep producing that marvellous poetry.
(Incidentally, the other milestone was my 100th blood donation!)

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-rime-of-the-middle-aged-shelbourne-fan/