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.