Monday, 29 December 2014

Whatever Next (Part Two)

Men who a few short months before the slaughter

Had voted socialist and internationalist,
And who had struck for higher wages
Against their respective employers,
Be they German or British or sometimes both,
Were now once more united in common purpose,
And on a sort of shared common land,
Reading in the newspapers about when
Fritz and Tommy met in No Man’s Land,
And briefly shared a deepened understanding

Of how nationhood had hoodwinked them,
And destroyed lives and mutual empathy;
Not for them the esoteric knowledge

Of British shell manufacturers paying
Royalties on enemy patents,
As Capital respected Capital;
Instead, Christmas trees and fags and beer,
Frost-breath football, schnapps and cigars
Silhouetted against a setting blood-red sun.
And who cares about the one remembered score line?
Who cares about whosoever won the Flanders friendly?
For there is a deeper question to ask:
“What if they had played again the next day?”

And then the day after that as well,
And what if they had played mixed sides,
As did royal families, aristocracies and capitalists,
Dispensing with birthplace
 as the sole criterion for selection.
Whatever next?

What if the playing of the People’s Game

Had continued beyond that Christmas time?

What on earth would have ensued?

There might just have been a series of socialist revolutions,
A peaceful redrawing of the map and classes of Europe,
With an early end to European Empires and racial theories,
And with a new respect for the wonders of our planet -

Think about it.
And remember the People’s Game.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Whatever Next?

When War broke out, the British public cried

“We’ll be in Berlin by Christmas.” But

By Christmas hundreds of thousands had died,
As Mons, The Marne, Ypres and Messines cut

Down the youth of Europe, while Flanders’ flood

Drowned dying, dead and alive. Summer’s dream

Was swamped by winter’s mud, rats, death and blood

In No Man’s Land; a hell hole night mare scene

Of barbed wire, flares, shells, screams and shrapnel
(A choreographed commonality

That saw each side’s men attack, flail and fall

In ceaseless dance of death’s banality)
Until, at Christmas, nineteen fourteen, when

Hamburg, Berlin, London and Manchester

Said “No!” to the killing fields’ mad mayhem

Ordered by Kaiser, Flag, Map and Officer,
And met instead in friendship, walking tall

And slow, comrades in war’s adversities,
They embraced in No Man’s Land and Football

Harmonised nations’ animosities;
And what if the playing of the Peoples’ Game

Had continued beyond that Christmas time?
What on earth would have happened next?
Well, I suggest to you that none of the following

Would have occurred –

The Battle of the Somme; Verdun;
The Bolshevik Revolution; The Russian Civil War; Stalin; Hitler; Fascism; World War Two; nuclear weapons; the Cold War; Remembrance Day;
Think about it.
And play the Peoples’ Game this Christmas.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Rodborough Doggy Tree

The Rodborough Doggy Tree
When the sun descends beyond yon hill,
And gilds the golden cumulus,
Thou shalt find me in the winter chill,
Cantering past some tumulus,
Or ancient circle, sarsen-girt,
Then on to fairest RODBOROUGH Fort,
For feral football in the dirt,
Until the darkness calls a halt;
And then we trot across the scree,
Past moonlit dewpond, all serene,
To celebrate the DOGGY TREE,
Each Christmastide a gladsome scene,
With bauble, bell and glittered card,
All pendant-hung and tree-top starred,
And there we read from my dear leader,
"Merry Christmas to all our Readers."

In memory of my dear dog, Basil; always missed but never more so than at the end of the old, and beginning of the new year; Basil wrote this some 10 years ago for, in his role as official mascot of the Stroud Football Poets.

Friday, 19 December 2014

1914-1918: And Now For The Final Cost:

(With thanks to Crispin Thomas and Johnny Fluffypunk)

Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1
Barnsley 4 Blackburn Rovers 2
Birmingham City 2 Blackpool 3
Bolton Wanderers 1 Bradford City 9
Derby County 6 Brentford 7
Brighton and Hove Albion  5 Bristol City 5
Bristol Rovers 3 Bury 7
Burnley 5 Cardiff City 0
Chelsea 6 Clapton Orient 4
Coventry City 6 Crystal Palace 4
Bradford Park Avenue 2 Everton 7
Exeter City 6 Fulham 0
Grimsby Town 1 Huddersfield Town 5
Hull City 4 Liverpool 6
Luton Town 3 Manchester City 9
Manchester United 8 Middlesborough 7
Millwall 5 Newcastle United 9
Newport County 1 Northampton Town 1
Norwich City 6 Nottingham Forest 2
Notts County 2 Oldham Athletic 0
Plymouth Argyle 7 Portsmouth 0
Preston North End 10 Queens Park Rangers 0
Reading 9 Sheffield United 2
Southampton 4 Southend United 10
Stockport County 9 Stoke City 0
Sunderland 0 Swansea 0
Stalybridge Celtic 0 Swindon Town 6
Sheffield Wednesday 3 West Bromwich Albion 2
West Ham United 7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Watford 3 Tottenham Hotspur 14

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Football Time

Football Time

I was never
 that close to my Dad,
He'd had a bad war in the Chindits,
fighting behind Japanese lines

Gave him
 twenty years of 
mood swings

And irrational
 bursts of unpredictable
But one Sunday 
 after the pub,
Out the back on the lawn,
He taught me 
to trap the ball,
How to kill it stone dead,
How to use your brain and body

one movement

And so control 
the world.
And when I played
 in the street,
I found that if 
I dropped my shoulder

And wriggled
 my hips,

I had a natural 
untaught body swerve,
I could go past players
 as if they weren't there,
I could get
 to the bye-line

And put the ball

Onto the centre forward's
And when I see
 a match 

At a big stadium
 or on a recreation ground,
And a player has a number 7
on his back
(Like me and like my dad),
And he traps
 the ball, wriggles his hips,

Beats the wing-back 
and crosses the ball,
Then my Dad's alive again,
On our back lawn again,
And I'm 5 again,
And that's why I like football:
                                     It plays tricks
with time.