This archive contains every poem that has been published on Football Poets. They are listed ten-per-page in reverse chronological order so the most recent poems appear first. Click or tap the arrows in the corners of the page to navigate between pages. It's easier to use the search form below to find a specific poem.
Another takeover, another sad case.
An ugly scar, across a beautiful face.
Greed is a monster, that is for sure.
Now it’s happening, more and more.
All part and parcel of footys decline.
Anybody can sign on the dotted line.
Football is now a lob sided game.
Unfair and uneven, wealth to blame.
What sort of wealth…nobody cares.
A blind eye is turned into such affairs.
Can we even call it ‘sport’ anymore.
I see a dirty business above the law.
Where will it all end, where will it lead.
The game I loved, I now hardly need.
The day started well enough: a walk to town
In the soft light of soft autumnal sunshine,
Ridge and furrow with kine in the fields;
Drunken Swindon fans trying to walk straight,
Whilst Lord John bantering with the Old Bill;
Stroud’s farmers’ market full of season harvest,
Sundry chats about the match with passers-by.
But then! Chaos at Merrywalks bus stop!
Too many wound up young men, youths and boys,
All chanting, singing, provoking and taunting,
For a double decker number 63,
Let alone the paltry single decker
That belatedly hove into view,
Bound for Nailsworth and Forest Green.
All normal rules of patient queuing
Went right out the window in a manic surge
(As Bob and I were addressed by an elderly woman:
‘Is there a football match on?
Do you remember Jimmy Johnstone?
Celtic and the European Cup?
I went to school with him.’),
We became mere spectators, mouths agape,
Politely listening to this memory,
As the queue behind us rapidly filled the bus.
And so, we decided to retrace steps and hail a taxi.
A lone driver shook his head; the other ranks were bare.
And so, we decided to walk up Rodborough Hill,
And so, to my home to jump on bicycles,
To arrive at the match in good time.
As we climbed the hill, a number 40
Cotswold Green bus, Stroud to Wotton under Edge,
Was coughing on its circuitous way;
We waved it down. It stopped. We paid five pounds:
‘Cash only on this service, my friend.’
The bus inched its way forward between two lorries,
One with scaffolding poles protruding
Into the very tight passageway.
The right-side back window got smashed to bits;
The bus got stuck. The driver got on his phone.
We waited and waited and waited.
Then plucked up courage and asked for our money back,
After the shortest bus journey of my life,
Perhaps twenty metres in total –
But full of considerable incident.
We ran up the hill and to my house
In Coronation Road; a quick word with Trish,
(‘You haven’t got your helmets on.’)
And then biked hell for leather along the A46,
(My red and white scarf tied to the panniers
Attracting the attention of car drivers:
‘Forest Green! Swindon wankers!’ etc,),
To ascend Star Hill, past the once Jolly Forester,
Once home of Forest Green Rovers,
To reach the haven of the car park and the bike racks.
We carefully locked our bicycles.
We then climbed the hill past the traffic jams
And seeming gridlock of coaches and cars,
To take our place in a serpentine queue,
The clock ticking madly,
Players already on the pitch,
Frustration rising with the turnstile deadlock:
‘Sorry’, said one solicitous steward,
‘We’ve only got two turnstiles on today.’
Another, less solicitous:
‘You shouldn’t all arrive at the same time.’
I pondered on the nature of free will,
And temporal-spatial coincidence –
But thought it best not to mention that
As my bag was searched,
Instead I plaintively replied:
‘Honestly, if it wasn’t for mutiny on the buses,
No taxis and then a bus crash,
We wouldn’t have done, mate.’
Impatient men and boys waited
outside newsagents at six o’clock,
for vans to deliver their bundles.
News or Standard? Rival
papers competed to produce
Saturday night sports papers,
all the football scores for
pools punters seeking that jackpot.
Out in the provinces the same
results were printed on
green or pink paper. When
older I played my part,
breathlessly phoning over
minor league matches,
later processing them
as a down-table sub in the big city.
Never trusted with the top games.
Scorers set in caps. The inside story?
Subs unschooled in sport, back
from the pub, juggling
several stories, might unwittingly
merge the odd football
and rugby match. It happened.
Only the score made them suspect
something wasn’t quite right. Another
editing change caught in time:
Sheffield Wednesday became
Sheffield yesterday, although
their supporters might well agree.
Tyranny of deadlines halted
most games in their prime; you only
knew what happened up to half-time.
One fan saved every edition from the 60s,
that was his kink. Passed them
to me when he left for Australia.
Victories and defeats, in black and pink.
My nan just loves her football
she goes to matches every week,
but now she wants to play as well
saying she’s strong and at her peak.
“But nan you’re in your eighties
and around six stone wet,
you’ve got a pair of dodgy knees
so how can you stick the ball in the net ?”
“Your eyes aren’t that sharp these days
and you can’t walk without your stick
you’re out of puff going up the stairs
so a ball you’d struggle to kick.”
But she’s got some trendy boots
and bought a nice new football kit,
she’s had a thorough examination
and the doctor passed her as fighting fit.
So look out for a little old white haired lady
the next time you’re at a game,
she’ll be easy to spot on the pitch
as she’s the one with the zimmer frame !
The beckoning floodlights
still work their magic,
early October’s comforting chill,
scarf snug round the neck.
Blood pulses through arteries,
moving as it should. Heart lifts
with every step towards the stadium.
An old pal texts me from
another game up north.
The name rings a bell.
He’s at a club where my job
was to phone over a few pars
for the Saturday Pink
from a kiosk outside the ground.
Games that I didn’t give a toss about,
dictated to a bored copy taker,
wishing I was somewhere else,
roaring my own team on to promotion.
But then, I remember Larkin’s sigh:
it wasn’t the place’s fault I didn’t care.
A goalless draw can happen anywhere.
In the beginning we kicked stones
against brick walls.
Drawing the man, we slide tackled
on broken glass.
Our stadium was a damp, cobbled alley
lit by street lamps.
Burnden Park rattled and roared with
every skilled pass.
I proudly wore the number 31 as
a badge of honour.
We were part of the awkward squad,
the school’s best team.
The photo shows a gang of youths unsure
where the spotlight shines,
But not Mick and me: looking into the distance
we dared to dream.
Mick came on as a sub against Man City,
roomed with Big Sam:
And by then I had failed my trial and
cried from the heart.
But true passions never die, they are
Now my life’s defeats and victories are
there in my art.
Much is contrived and Pythonesque in
this beautiful game,
And in all of life’s small rewards
for which we fight:
Yet the striving, the desire, can survive
those empty stadiums
With replays proving the ref wrong
even when he is right.
Now my son’s red studs are flying as
he marks each man,
Equitably learning to deal with
the hand of God.
He cannot predict the final score but
this much he knows:
Play hard, play fair, and you’ll always find
a place in the squad.
Ambitions, disregarded like lost clothing
on a muddy pitch,
And certainties fade; and the goalposts
will constantly move;
And you, Ari, a new prospect, will be clocked
by armchair punters
Who will see what you are, what you do,
and then disapprove.
Each day young dreamers have their hopes
And brick walls and broken glass
still block their way.
But in life, kid, there are no hurdles,
Find space, create, adapt, give your all; and
live better each day.
When I was a kid, I lived for football.
Kicking a ball against a wall,
Playing in the road, using street names as goal posts,
Playing ‘Five and In’,
Practising and practising and practising,
Until it got too dark to see,
Then falling asleep and dreaming of playing for England.
When I got a bit older, on my ninth birthday,
I went to my first match and was smitten:
Watching and studying and learning
The intricate skills of the professional,
As well as cheering and shouting.
I carried on playing;
School teams in the morning,
Local leagues on Saturday afternoons,
Then getting the scores at twenty to five,
Joining the twilight motley throngs
Standing outside the television shops,
Noses pressed to the windows.
I loved floodlit midweek games,
The hot chocolate walk home from the ground,
But the ritual and narrative of each week
Revolved around ‘When Saturday Comes’:
Life in all its guises was determined by this.
But now with Stroud Strollers,
The ritual and narrative of each week
Revolves around ‘When Monday Comes’:
Life in all its guises is determined by this.
Camaraderie rather than competition,
Inclusive not hierarchic,
Diversity in action,
Welcoming and life enhancing,
Turning back the clock.
Songs of Innocence and Experience:
William Blake would have loved Stroud Strollers:
‘When Monday Comes’ –
Not amongst these dark satanic mills,
But the Astro-turf at Stratford Park;
‘And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?’
Why not come and walk with Stroud Strollers at Stratford Park?
You’ll re-experience the innocence of childhood,
You’ll feel young at heart,
And don’t be alarmed when you know and feel
The hands of the clock go widdershins –
It’s just the norm: you feel young again.
And don’t worry about the weather.
It never rains on Stroud Strollers.
The sun shines on the righteous.
Gloveless keepers, a pitch full of sand.
An offside rule, simple to understand!
3 men in charge, no need for any more.
It was beautiful then, win, lose or draw.
Tackles flew in, on the goalkeeper too!
The ball would stick in the mud like glue!
A magic sponge, to all injuries applied.
Photographers lying down, side by side.
Across the alphabet, other scores relaid.
In the FA Cup, your best team played!
On the terrace you stood with your mate.
You just turned up and paid at the gate!
Saturday 3pm, all games got on the way.
Tactics less complicated on how to play!
No play acting or diving to win a Pen.
With its ‘warts and all’ I loved footy then!
But greed took over, riches came aboard.
And a match ticket, I can no longer afford.
‘The suits’ sanitised the game to please TV.
In doing so, they stole the game from me.
‘Knighted’ by the Kop, no need of sword.
My boyhood hero, with every goal scored.
On my red jersey, I wore the number 8.
A record maker, a legend, an all time great.
He helped achieve Bill Shankly’s dream.
Part of Ramsey’s World Cup winning team.
On and off the pitch, a well deserved ‘Sir’
Struck a thunderous shot through the air.
One of the greatest players we’ll ever see.
Still my favourite ever Red, if you ask me!
So at number 8 or number 21.
He was my childhood hero, second to none.
His flag, next game will take pride of place.
‘Sir Roger’ a man of skill, a man of grace.
Anfield to Wembley
dubbed Sir Roger by the Kop
Hunt would score for fun