Trench Foot-Ball

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Now I’m not saying I haven’t seen some strange things since this war started,
And I’m not saying I haven’t been surprised at some of the things I’ve seen,
But nothing in anybody’s dream could have prepared them for what I saw last night.
Now, you know me, I’m the grinning one right in the middle of last summer’s crowd,
Outside the recruiting office, all my own teeth, throwing my boater up into the air,
Burlington Bertie from Bow, Berlin bound for Christmas –
But even that memory, unbelievable as it is,
Is nothing to what I witnessed yesterday midnight.
The night sky stars and moon shone that bit extra when the flares died away,
And the ice in the shell holes twinkled like stars too,
And then the guns went silent and the rifles did too,
And all you could hear was your heartbeat and your mate’s breathing next to you,
And Jerry started singing “Heilige Nacht” and “Silent Night”
And shouting “Over here Tommy”, sounding just like Lancashire lads
Or Cockneys and Scousers and Brummies but never like Fritzes,
And then some of them wandered out into No Mans’ Land,
With Schnapps and cigars and wurst and what could we do?
We couldn’t shoot them could we?
So we climbed over our parapets and went out too,
With whiskey and Capstans and tins of jam and beef and bottles of beer,
For a feast and a chat and a sing-song and a rest from death and cold and boredom.
It was just like a Sunday outing with the lads from the pub,
And so when Fritz brought out a football,
What could we say but “Jawohl mein freund”.
And so there we were, out in No Mans’ Land,
With caps for goals and a camera for posterity,
Kicking a ball and tackling and running around between barbed wire touch lines,
And shooting at a goal instead of at each other,
Waiting for the whistle to start killing again;
And I know they’ll say all this never happened – but I’ll have the picture to prove it.


I used to sit with my gran by the Christmas fireside back in the ’50’s and she’d stir the embers and tell me that old soldiers never die, they only fade away. This is for you, Gran. Stuart xxx.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/trench-foot-ball/