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The past is another country we visit
every Monday evening on an artificial
surface, where all time is extra time
and those sixpences we turned on are victims
of inflation, physical contact frowned
upon and every tackle late.
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I gave up playing proper football at nineteen
years of age, to concentrate on drink and drugs.
Now sixty-five I retire to the pub
for a post-match lager and lads’ banter,
before squirting cannabis oil sub-lingua.
Football has finally come back home.
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The line-ups are decided by a secret
algorithm known to only Dave and Colin,
which takes account of ball skill, age, weight, fitness
and the amount of ale consumed last weekend.
We are a pack of Peter Pans, Lost Boys
battling against the clock and the dreaded Hook.
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The goals are narrower, the pitch is wider,
the ball travels quicker than back in the day;
injuries take so much longer to recover.
The first time I was penalised for running
was a source of inner pride and stupefaction,
as surprising as an unassisted hard-on.
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How blessed we are to inhabit this era
of Walking Football, Mobility Scooters
and Viagra. In the bar, Graham remarks,
he never dreamt he’d still be kicking
a ball at his age. It’s cruel to point out
that Graham misses more often than he connects,
but, of course, somebody always does.