For Keith

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Do you remember that sunny day back in August 1958?
I bloody well do, mate.
We were sitting on the bunker at the end of platform 4,
Underneath the massive down-line semaphore signal,
When Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Earl of St. Germains
Came steaming, Brunswick green and brass dome gleaming
To a shrieking, whistling halt;
One eyeful of that and I forgot all about football,
For you showed me how to record the numbers
In a three penny red memo. book,
And how to find and underline name and number
In my half crown Ian Allan train spotter’s book;
And you created magic!
Happy years at iron bridge, redbrick bridge and pillbox,
Measuring the distance from Swindon to Paddington
In furlong and chain;
And do you remember trapping your thumb in the leather strapped door,
And Five Boys chocolate and the stamp your name in metal machine?
And sneaking onto the platform
When you couldn’t afford the four pence for a platform ticket
And signal boxes with their clunking, clanking levers,
And mechanics and machines and cranes and girders and grease,
And the men pouring out of the Works at lunchtime,
In a frantic rush for some grub and a fag.
And do you remember getting stuck in the bog at Marsh Lane,
Just by the Bunky Bridge,
As the Highworth workmens’ special whistled by?
And seeing 7000 Britannia class
Straining and sliding in snorting steam on ice cold winter days?
And seeing sunlight shimmer on gleaming bending heat-hot rail
In those endless summer holiday days,
Watching the Swindon football team at its pre-season training,
While we waited for the Cheltenham Spa Express
After the Greenbridge signal came down,
In the squinting semaphore distance.
And you showed me all this;
You showed me the way, the right way, the railway,
The permanent way,
And you’ll always be sitting beside me on the wooden fence
At Frocester, near Standish Junction,
As the Gilbert and Ellis Islands comes steaming round the bend.
Railway Time, you see. Keith Time. Brother Time.


I hope, dear reader, that you have been as fortunate as me – a lifelong friendship with a brother is a fine thing. See you all on December 1st. Keith.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/for-keith/