The Beautiful Game

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 2 …. and I saunter into the bar of The Anchor
quarter of an hour before the kick-off,
order a pint of their finest lager
and head for my favourite chair.
It’s not there – it’s taken, stolen, occupied
by a middle class type in a polo-shirt
with his horizontally-striped buddies
and they’re watching the Rugby!
What time’s this finish? I enquire abruptly.
About twenty minutes, says an horizontal,
are you wanting to watch the soccer?
You won’t miss much.
No, I’m wanting to watch the Football, son.
The Beautiful Game! Soccer! Soccer!!
Whenever that word’s offered
I yearn for the days of corporal punishment
when wilful ignorance caught a good thrashing.
(I’ll qualify that statement by adding
that Americans and women might be excused
and receive a mere verbal warning.)
But a British fella who calls Football Soccer
deserves flogging with minimal mercy.
It usually indicates one thing only: Rugby.
You probably call it Rugger, son, a game played
by morons and watched by Clarksons.
Back in the sixties and seventies
when Eddie Waring was a household appliance
and Rugby was on telly every Saturday
between the Racing and the Wrestling,
my mother acknowledged an awkward desire,
as she witnessed yet another scrum down,
to purposefully walk up and kick the bum of each player.
I have this similar itch when I hear “soccer”
pronounced, especially by polo-shirted types,
striped horizontally in my chair.
But worst of all I’m reminded that I
was once too clever by half.
I’m not now, mind you, but I was back then
at junior school: smartest kid in the class
and best footballer in Birmingham South
by a distance. Turn on a sixpence,
kick with each foot and know what to do
long before the ball had arrived.
But I had the misfortune to pass
the eleven-plus and parents with aspirations
for me, so chose a Grammar school
that only played Rugby.
Or, let’s say, I had it chosen for me.
I still have nightmares about collapsing scrums.
What kind of a chump would volunteer
to be a hooker in the middle of that lot?
Oh, look, he’s cleared the bar again!
Better luck next time.
Are you leaving before the final whistle?
Lads, was it something I said?

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/the-beautiful-game-13/