Old men dream of her,
her soft touch, her goading eyes that challenged them to
deeds that the men’s wives and women despised.
They remember their youth,
youthful lives with youthful mates
that now are old not young
with old men’s bones and old men’s fates.
Yet she is young, even now,
touching younger men, arousing souls
to burn, a raging fire –
old men’s still glow, with embers and coal.
They see glories gone,
eyelids closed, cobwebs clearing
of crowds and team mates
slapping backs, winks and smiles, and cheering.
They hear comments,
they’re proud to love her
and they see her fondness –
deep in the soul emotion stirs.
Old eyes grow misty,
throats are dry, hearts do ache
they look at hands, once skilled
and then sadly the old men’s heads shake.
Comradeship and pride,
is what she’d taught so well,
and that she still does
as more she enthrals with her spell.
Young men, new men
to be trained and told
how to be a good man, a better man
and learn as did the old.
Some she breaks,
their hearts, their lives and they cry
for she can be brutal, harsh –
for the better she loves the more they’ll try.
Some are her champs,
their names chanted in stadiums, loud
while others are just followers
and held silently proud.
Smell of sweat,
Feelings of ache and strain
on bodies brutally thumped
and jumpers soaked with blood and stains.
flesh on leather, fluent moves
moving forward for the goal
with boots pounding the sound of thundering hooves.
They play her game,
they win, they lose for many years
and time passes on
as men do laugh and shed some tears.
they play hard against each other
to be the best in her eyes
and always try to beat their brother.
But in the end,
the men are all as one,
they are all lovers of the woman,
like thousands under the sun.
Many she’s caressed
in her endless global walk
and young men grow old
and of her and their love they talk.
A mystical ghost touching deep
within, her men –
to her side they’ll keep.
Matt Laffan 24 September 1985
My comments follow …
S1 … Do men love sport more than woman? … what a silly question – however, sport does take men away from women or attending other activities. But this poem is clearly about rugby being a woman … and of course an eternally young lass that will continue to arouse men. Rugby is remembered as an old man remembering a young woman. An interesting last line – old men’s still glow, with embers and coal – not old men still glow … I quess because the old men are still now.
S2 … old men have to close their eyes to see things … well things from the past – the glory days when they were involved.
S3 … the deep emotional attachment to the game … and the lament that they can no longer play the game looking at hands that no longer can perfom. But they are proud that they once loved the game (the young woman) and what the game gave in comradeship and what the game continues to give as woman will continue to entrall men with their spell.
S4 … and now a reflection on what the game gives to young men taking up rugby … rugby teaches man to be better … likewise woman of course … the last line has a nice pun play on the last word … rugby is all about trying.
S5 … looking at the game from the game’s point of view … or the view of the game as personified by the young lass … some are her champs and some are just followers … and there is a lot of blood sweat and tears in the foundation of the relationship … and here we have the very physical aspects … to play her game it must be boots and all … and of course there are laughs and tears, winners and losers.
S6 … well, of course there are rivals and competition … but it is all clean fun … they are all lovers of the game and respectful of the game … thousands world wide lovers of this woman
S7 … I rather like the closing stanza … men only part of the game … they’ll keep … woman (and rugby of course) must always put men in proper perspective.
A wonderful poem about rugby the irony of the situation in that he could never play the game. He had a serious disability and was confined to a wheelchair for most of his life and died aged 38. He had a brilliant interlect … a link to some personal details.