Citizens of the World Unite Your Goalposts With Crossbars

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Without wanting to get too mathematical or philosophical,
Ontological, existential and metaphysical,
May I ask the sighted of you a question please?
What do you see when you look at a football pitch?
That is, a football pitch devoid of players and spectators –
Just a playing surface, with goalmouths and attendant markings,
And none of the other paraphernalia associated with modern football;
You see a football pitch – correct?
You see a space defined in its meaning by expectation and experience,
A space defined in its meaning by knowledge of a set of rules,
A knowledge of a set of rules both interfused by and interfusing
A correspondingly habituated mind-set –
And so, you see a football pitch. Correct?
And, by the way, when I say pitch, I don’t mean a stadium,
I don’t mean stands, floodlights and cantilevers
And all that Fritz Lang gear,
I mean, as I say, just a pitch –
Although, I accept, you might notice some circumambient surroundings,
For example, when I pass the football pitch on the common where I live,
I notice the flowers in season, the hawthorn and the may,
The cows grazing, the flight of the skylarks, the distant silver Severn,
And I often muse upon a common’s historic and cultural meanings;
But all of this ecological and sociological rambling takes place,
For me, as it were, (a la Mike Channon),
In a secondary realm of meaning,
A sort of parallel football universe,
Coinciding with, but merely supporting,
The fundamental, quintessential, definition of the meaning of this space,
The Football Pitch –
And does not the very use of the word “pitch” confirm my point?
When you pitch camp, do you not pinch and steal space?
So when I looked at Neville Gabie’s book of photographs,
Photographs of football posts from all over the globe,
What did I see through Neville’s eyes?
Neville tells us that there are a few inexorable rules of football posts:
Distance, width, height etc. are ineluctable FIFA coordinates;
But beyond that, Neville sees the freedom and constraints of environment,
Ambient factors that produce what he sees as works of sculpture,
“Wooden goalposts standing out like beacons of human endeavour
In often vast, empty spaces…the sheer inventiveness of their construction…
The narrow perimeters of creating a structure out of 3 sticks…
Where there was no wood to hand, stones, string, metal, chalk or paint…
And without a field…garage, street…car park”;
And so Neville shows us a field of marionette footballers in a bosky France,
Autumn leafy goal post scenes in a numinous Polish woodland,
A broken down caravan with fish net goalmouths down in seaside Cornwall,
A caravan site football pitch in the aptly named Clogger Head,
Metal Mittel Europa goal post gates in far off Lithuania,
Council estate goal posts chalked on red brick walls,
In Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Northern Ireland, Poland and Brazil;
Graffiti street art goal posts in South America and in Europe,
A river flooded goal mouth in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire,
(The cross bar just above the surface of the Severn)
In the medieval Priory Field;
Rock filled fields and pitches in the Hebrides,
Goal posts in a Scottish mountain glen,
Frozen snow field-pitches in Poland, Latvia and South Africa,
Astro turf in the Mediterranean,
Dry grass clumps and shingle beach in Italy,
Sectarian divides in Belfast,
Roman Catholic shrines and churches by the goals in Ireland and Poland,
A graveyard pitch in Harris in the Outer Hebrides,
An impressive municipal fire station’s goal posts in Marseilles,
(Slightly subverting the building’s civic dignity and proud tricolour)
Goal posts by a giant power station in Ferrybridge, Yorkshire,
(Massive cooling towers dwarfing the pitch below),
A winter field in the old coal mining lands of Barnsley,
School play yards; some pitches stolen space, and some official;
Sand and rubble and a string tied crossbar in Tunisia ,
Jungle posts, in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa,
Some straight and true, some knarled and knobbled, some still trees;
String twixt telegraph poles in a railway goods yard,
Just beneath the Buenos Aires skyscrapers;
Vegetable climbing nets in Paraguay;
A chalk palimpsest cross bar, like an ancient wall message in North Africa;
Beach posts, Rio de Janeiro; posts in lunar minescapes;
Pitches on estuarine sinking sand; in palmscapes; in the shanty towns;
Pitches on urban blighted broken glass and syringes; on gravel;
On bare earth in Brazil and Namibia; on beach grass in Tunisia –
I could go on and on with this litany of creativity,
But see for yourself through Neville’s eyes,
See how environment, both natural and social,
Provides both constraints and freedoms,
Constraints and freedoms to create improvised football sculptures,
That are both works of art and a medium for citizenship,
Sculptures that give everyone the right, the whole world over,
Irrespective of class, gender, ethnicity or ability,
The right to play the Peoples’ Game,
To play the Peoples’ Game with the rights of citizens,
Citizens with both the freedom to express themselves as individuals,
And as citizens, with responsibilities, both to their team and the game’s rules;
So, Citizens Of The World Unite
Your Goalposts With Crossbars.



I met Neville when playing table football in an ironic type art event underneath a big blow up billboard poster of one of his photographs – a great bloke and a great book. I heartily recommend it.

Table Football in front of Neville Gabie billboard

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/citizens-of-the-world-unite-your-goalposts-with-crossbars/