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The Stadium is but half full today.
(Or half empty, seen from a more pessimistic perspective.)
The Game till now has failed to ignite –
To live up to the pre-match hype.
The pitch is a rain-sodden mudpatch.
The Stands and Terraces windswept.
Winter has come and Spring is far behind.
I thrust my mitts deep into my pockets.
I shift my weight from left foot to right.
And pray for a deadlock-breaking goal.
Any goal, a strike from either team.
I would prefer my lot to take the lead.
Yet were the other side to go one up,
I’d not complain. I’d feel no pain.
It would at least give all a jolt.
Put an end to this dull stalemate.
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For by my watch the time is four fifteen.
Sixty minutes down, thirty to go.
(This being one of those rare fixtures
That actually kicked off at three!)
A whole hour of gestation has whelped no offspring.
And precious few clear-cut chances.
Our lonesome lone Striker has lost his sting.
(Not that it’s entirely his fault.
He simply has not enjoyed the service, poor blighter.)
And, as for our opponents, they’ve fat chance
Of getting past the four we’ve stuck in midfield,
And the five packed in defence.
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I shift my weight from right foot to left.
And given there’s but half an hour left,
I’ll see if I can conjure up a goal.
If I, by the sheer force of my indomitable Will,
Can cause that leathern sphere to cross the line.
I grant I’ve never seen a mountain move.
Still, Faith, some claim, can make them do just that.
And once I saw on TV this bright chap,
Who by hard stares could bend forks till they snapped.
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I switch to basilisk mode. Glare at the ball intensely.
And strive to rein it in beneath my sway.
Possession is won, lost, regained.
The focus of my urgings ping-pongs back and forth.
Their Keeper’s sheet remains steadfastly clean.
I cut my stare and screw my eyes up tight.
I concentrate and fill my head with scenes
Of hugs, air-punching fists and pats on backs.
But all I hear are plaintive cries of “Foul!”
And what I see when I’ve unscrewed my lids,
Is our sole Marksman floored flat on the ground.
Scythed down before he’d had the time to shoot.
The short hand now is inching t’wards the five.
The long one’s gone a bit beyond the nine.
The floodlights dim. The Crowd thins. No-one wins.
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My mental gym has not produced the goods.
Ted Hughes through thought called up his midnight fox.
My mind, try as it might, can’t spawn a goal.
This test of mine provides conclusive proof:
No psychic antics by some hopeful fan
Have ever sent the Ball into the Net.
Our wish is often father to our thought.
But thought is not the mother of results.
We may desire a Goal, a Grail, a Fleece.
Or seek a cure for some malign disease.
Yet there’s no surefire guarantee
That what we crave or covet we’ll receive.
So if the goal is scored, the cure found,
All credit is to Fate or Fortune due.
And none to us – we’re hand and foot fast bound.
We want, we wish, we will, but cannot do.