Parking the Bus

parking-the-bus

To park the bus –  metaphor – to play very defensively, to get a lot of players behind the ball, to have no attacking play, to make it almost impossible for the opposition to score, as if a bus  is parked in front of the goal. Tactic attributed to José Mourinho when manager of Chelsea.

PARKING THE BUS

For José. After Henry Reed

To-day we have parking the bus. Yesterday,

We had conning the ref. And tomorrow morning,

We shall have how to waste time. But to-day,

To-day we have parking the bus: the scent of liniment

Sweat and fresh-mown grass drifts across the pitch,

And to-day we have parking the bus.

This is the ankle breaking tackle. And this

Is the studs up tackle, whose use you will see,

When you are given your boots. And this is the offside trap,

Which in your case you have not got. The coaches

pace on the touchline with their frowns and foul language,

Which in our case we have not got.

This is the goal line clearance, which is always performed

With an easy flick of the foot. And please do not let me

See anyone using his hand. You can do it quite easy

If you have any strength in your foot. The injured

Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see

Any of them using their hands.

And this you can see is the dive. The purpose of this

Is to fool the ref, as you see. We can dive

Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this

drawing the foul. And rapidly backwards and forwards

The forwards plummet and the midfielders plunge:

They call it drawing the foul.

They call it drawing the foul: it is perfectly easy

If you have any strength in your foot: like the shirt pull,

And the high tackle, and the shoulder charge, and the trip,

Which in our case we have not got; and the physios

with their magic spray, and the balls going backwards and forwards,

For to-day we have parking the bus.

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2016
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4 thoughts on “Parking the Bus

  1. Here’s the original, “Naming of Parts” by Henry Reed. I’ve always loved this poem, one of the greatest anti-war poems, in the subtlest of ways:

    Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
    We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
    We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
    Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
    Glistens like coral in all the neighboring gardens,
    And today we have naming of parts.

    This is the lower sling swivel. And this
    Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
    When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
    Which in your case you have not got. The branches
    Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
    Which in our case we have not got.

    This is the safety-catch, which is always released
    With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
    See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
    If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
    Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
    Any of them using their finger.

    And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
    Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
    Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
    Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
    The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
    They call it easing the Spring.

    They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
    If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
    And the breech, the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
    Which in our case we have not got; and the almond blossom
    Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
    For today we have the naming of parts.

    Henry Reed

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