Starting Over

A poem written for a friend's dad who sadly passed away this year:

Car and the kerbside, our permanent goalposts.
Days in the sunshine can't come to a stop.
And in darkened window your dad holds a tea-towel;
Smiles at your overhead kicks. Spion Kop.

There in the kitchen, your biggest supporter,
Watches the game with one eye on the grill.
And though all your dreams be tossed up and blown,
His reflection remains in the window, still.

Still his reflection is there in the window;
Still his heart beats, as the grandchildren play.
He's there in the garden; he's there on the driveway;
He's there for the bedtimes and throughout the day.

And Lennon songs fill up the house with the past.
They ring through the rooms to dispel the pain.
And clasping the photograph forty years on,
You Imagine those two Starting Over again.

Published 28th Jul 2016 | Tributes

Bettisfield Remembered

Poem in progress for the forgotten Bettisfield miners of North Wales.

Too long in the dark, too long underground.
No tales from the Bettisfield Pit, no sound
From the deadly black seam or the scene of the blast
To reconnect present with past.

The Blackeyed Boys from the shelves of the Dee,
Under blanketing clouds pulled over the sea,
Took the deafening shaft and plunged from the light
For a lifetime of toil out of sight.

The crutters, the hewers, the trappers, half marrows,
Who mined the black diamonds and loaded the barrows
Were made from the north western earth and the sky
With coal on their skin and flint in their eye.
Scarred arms swung the picks that splintered the stone;
Blisters that cut through the skin and the bone;
For a pittance of pay lost in a raw hand,
They fired and lit up our land.

Pressure for millions of years drew the line
200ft down in the Bettisfield mine.
And their sweat and their blood on the rock left its stain
Where their pained conversations and stories remain.
But in light, no one spoke of the hardship down there:
The straining for breath and the venomous air.
The coated black lungs, desperation for space
Weren't marked on the Welsh miner’s face.

So remember our miners from pits now neglected -
Their images, stories and songs resurrected.
Recall that brave history y glowyr begun
And lift them back into the sun.

Published 25th Aug 2016 | Tributes

88 Years (For York City FC)

88 Years

From footplate of bus and from platform of station,
Through Saturday lunchtime’s acclimatisation,
The scarved and bob-capped from days gone and present
Have strode through our streets to the lights of the crescent.

On weekdays and weekends our action replay;
Devoted, uncoated from August to May.
We chanted their names and we sang for the team;
We watched from the wings as they lived out our dream.

For this is the place where Wilkinson, Storey
And Bottom and Fenton took City to glory:
In ‘55 Blanchflower, Ramsey were gone
As we rolled over Spurs in the Cup, 3-1.

In ‘48, Patrick, v Rotherham hit five
As the red and white thousands in here came alive.
Those epic encounters when Liverpool came,
And the back from the brink in that Southampton game.

And that icy last minute with hearts in a knot,
As the ball took its place on the penalty spot.
When the Crescent grew hushed and the Arsenal did quake
And Houchen rolled in and made this old ground shake.

Let’s remember the men who anointed this turf:
From Forgan, MacMillan, through David McGurk.
The good on the deck and the great in the air -
See Boyer and Burrows and Parslow and Blair
The soldiers supreme that were glued to the ball:
Canham and Creswell and Bishop and Hall.
And the boys in the dug-outs behind all the thrills:
Worthington, Lockie, Dennis Smith, Gary Mills.

And this is the place where we’d curse or discuss:
The three in attack or the parking the bus.
The tip of a diamond, the man-to-man marking,
The roaring, the shouting, the growling, the barking
The chipping, the bending, the lobbing and curling;
The scarves and the flags and the banners unfurling.
The spins and the grins and the tricks and flicks
And the tap-ins, the clapping, the overhead kicks.
The chanting and ranting, the whinging and moaning;
The car journey home and the radio phone-in.

For here on this ground are the fakes and the feins,
And the race down the flanks and the rush in our veins
The tackles, the barges, the trips and the slides -
And the ghosts and the glides and the never off-sides.

This is the place where the mud and the sweat
Gave us just past the post or a bulge in the net.
And this is the place that thumps its own chest,
That looks to the future and kisses its crest.

And as day turns to dark and the floodlights grow dim
And the shutters are drawn and the shadows move in.
As the kit bags are packed and the boot room is cleared,
When the fans and the players have long disappeared.
As the lines on the overgrown grass start to fade
And the hard hats move in with the pick and the spade,
We’ll roll up our programmes and save souvenirs
And we’ll look to the future through eyes full of tears
And the songs from the stands will ring in our ears
As the whistle blows time on our eighty-eight years.

Published 21st Aug 2021 | Tributes