1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 We’ve all had that Greta Garbo football feeling haven’t we?
Sometimes you go to a match just to forget,
And when it’s an end to end game,
And your team wins,
With, you know, a goal in the last minute,
And you’re there with the crowd,
Joining in,
The chanting and the singing,
The shouting and the laughing,
Then your consequent feeling
“Forget what?”
Such irritations as toothache,
Bad sex,
Shopping lists;
Heartaches such as a seriously ill child,
Or a broken love affair,
Or a dying parent,
Or the threat of the sack,
Bad debts, the threat of floods, dripping pipes, gardening,
Loose roof tiles, decorating, DIY, the ironing,
The dole, rising prices, rising damp, quarrels, guilt,
The protestant work ethic and yet more guilt,
Targets and failures and worry about worry and stress,
Jobs to do and jobs undone,
What’s for dinner tonight,
Where did I put the car key,
How can I do all I’ve got to do in the worryingly insufficient time available,
And yet still more guilt;
In short, all the limitless ridiculous trivial worries
With which you can clutter the human mind
Even at the best of times
And with the best of self control –
These things just seem to fly in or out of your head with a will of their own
Don’t they?
Especially when it’s a boring game and the whistle keeps blowing
And there’s no continuity or seeming purpose –
You just happen to be there,
At a football match.
So you need a big game to forget the big stuff,
The real blood and thunder fear,
Like war and death and its constant threat,
Like at Craven Cottage, October 2nd. 1943,
Arsenal 4 Fulham 3,
When present among the crowd of 17,994
Were Cecil Day Lewis and Laurie Lee,
Who saw Cliff Bastin score for Arsenal
And Dennis Compton then net three.
And Laurie Lee, near a nervous breakdown,
Cried out with heart rending despair
At every goal.
Seven times,
He threw his hands high into the air,
This neutral fan from Gloucestershire,
This – in theory, and apparently in practice – disinterested spectator,
Was threatened and alarmed by every single goal scored,
No matter who scored;
“My nerves were not good”,
His diary laconically recounts.
But just imagine if the game had been settled by penalties –
There might not have been “Cider with Rosie”,
“As I Walked Out”,
“A Moment of War”
No Woolpack,
Still extant,
No Laurie Lee industry;
Slad would be a ghost village,
And Laurie Lee would be remembered as a very minor poet –
Remember that the next time you pay 25 quid
For a boring nil – nil;
It might just be the making of you.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/laurie-lee-at-the-football-match/