Back At The Match (after Philip Larkin)

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 1 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.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 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.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 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.


I used to have to report on Selby Town’s matches in the Yorkshire League while working for the Yorkshire Evening Press in the mid-1970s, at the same time as Chelsea were engaged in a vital promotion push from the old Second Division. It probably hastened my move to become a sub-editor, although I still had to process match reports on Saturdays for the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Green ‘Un in Leeds after I switched jobs. However, this poem was initially inspired by returning to Woking’s ground for the first time since lockdown, and seeing those beckoning floodlights again. A certain P. Larkin gets a mention, who I don’t believe showed any interest in football at all.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/back-at-the-match-after-philip-larkin/