Sport

Football’s Getting Homesick Blues

Harry’s gone for placement, dishin’ out the medicine,
Nation’s in the basement, despairin’ at the government,
The man in the waistcoat, looks out, jumps up,
Shoulder’s feeling pretty rough, readjusts his shirt cuffs.

You’re out, kids, but look what you did,
God knows when you’ll be doin’ it again,
Approached it the right way, makin’ lots of new friends,
Man in an England cap in the Wig and Pen
Goes and turns the sound down: that’s enough, thanks, Glenn.

Stones rocks, shirt red, Maguire leaps, big head,
Trippier in the heat puts balls in the box but
Think about how you play, don’t give the ball away,
The people in the pub say Raheem’ll score one day.

You’re out, kids, but look what you did,
Walk on your tip toes, tuck in your elbows,
Watch out for the long throws, dictate how the game flows
Keep the door closed, confidence grows,
It helps to have a proper plan and know which way the kicks go.

Ah, Dele sick, Dele well, group stages farewell
Team, squad, country gel, three lions, hearts swell,
Work hard, Lingard, get back now, Kyle,
Dig in, use guile, workin’ out our own style.

Look out, kids, you’re gonna get hit
By foulers, cheaters, penalty spot abusers,
Turnin’-up-the-heaters,
Pickford leapin’ and stickin’ out his left hand,
Build a team of leaders. Who was markin’ Mina?

Ah, get through, keep on, advance, romance,
Fortnite dance, IKEA, no fear, football gets near,
Free-kick, freak out, hearts lift, chance come, chance missed,
It’s grippin’, it’s gruelin’ but they’ve not picked up Mandzukic.

You’re out, kids, but look what you did,
Don’t hide down a manhole, think of all you handled,
Avoidin’ all the scandals, leadin’ by example,
Now see what you’ve begun, it’s time to move on,
Hard work, teamwork, relightin’ the candle.

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Orpheus and the Umbroworld

Orpheus descends
into the umbroworld

of trackie bottoms
and replica tops,

ragged running shoes
and knee-length socks,

skeleton racks
of shell-suited overstocks,

and sidesteps
the slow shuffle of dead souls

with their tatty dreams
of sunday morning goals,

deadly crossfield passes
and hacky sack skills.

He slays three-headed
Cerberus behind the tills,

who blows bubble gum balloons
from three sullen mouths,

and finds sweet Eurydice
wrapped up in sports towels.

Unlooking, he unravels,
unfetters, unfurls,

ushers her back through
the aisles of Sportsworld,

past gumshields and goggles
and tennis ball canisters,

under the Gods’ watchful eye,
Nike and Adidas.

But, in the security screen
on the threshold,

the face of Eurydice,
he accidentally beholds

and she is suddenly gone
from him forever,

lost in the folds
of a thousand

golf umbrellas.

The Tennis Player’s Prayer

Our Federer, which art in Henman,
Lew Hoad be thy name;
Billie Jean Kingdom come;
thy Wimbledon,
in earth as it is in Henman.
Give us this day our Perry, Fred.
And forgive us our Samprasses,
as we forgive them that Sampras against us.
And Lloyd us not into tense tie-breaks;
but Rod Laver us from Ivanisevic.
For Billie Jean is the Kingdom,
Evonne Goolagong and the Cawley,
for Evert and Evert.
Amen.