What’s football got to do with poetry?

Soccer - League Division One - Fulham v Everton - Craven Cottage - 1963

Quite a lot, sometimes, especially if you spent large parts of your teenage years standing on the cold, concrete terraces of a struggling football club in London in the 1960s.

The poem was published in New Poets 16, and recently in There’s Only One F in Fulham, the club’s fanzine run by David Lloyd.

The Wind off the Thames

Winter Saturday afternoon 1960s London
the tube to Hammersmith station
electric magnetic acrid ozone
escalate from underground below the flyover
two miles walking redbrick backstreets
two shillings entry to

struggling Fulham football club
the riverside stand terraced with men
in solitary union, a fug of damp overcoats
sweat, cigarette smoke, Brylcreemed heads
sweet scalding tea, steak and kidney pies
fortify against the wind cutting off the water

another loss to a better team, in my despond
spill from a desolate stadium to trudge
the lonely drag back home
envy others starting out early evening
more human, rewarding, alliances, affinities
than devotion to a football team

40 years later on the far side of the world
unable to sleep I rise to watch
an internet stream a pixellated view
an all seater covered stadium
smoking forbidden, pomaded hair passé
but the same disappointment

I return to a bed as cold
as the chill wind off the Thames

© Mike Hopkins 2011