I found myself wishing this persona… to be brave and strong and to tell me
about anything else;
art, football, ice hockey, plasma physics, philosophy… anything but love…
It's a game
I saw it once or twice
when I was twelve
standing by a fence in a coat and scarf
with my best friend
local farmers leapt and ran
thuds and clouts and kicks
made the noise of drums and blood
in the dark part of the heart
goals were signalled
with a cheer
and a man waved two white flags
as if he wanted peace
men ran out with oranges
the players sucked them
and began again
it got cold
and we went home
I forget who won
my Mother's pinafore was green
it had red berries on it
we made toast on a fork
in the kitchen stove
it tasted of smoke and butter
my Father didn't play football
I don't think he knew how
the ball seemed an odd shape
Kate Llewellyn (1936 –
The story of going to a football game with a friend at the age of twelve, so it must have been just after the war in 1948. It looks like winter weather as a coat and scarf is involved. And it looks like a local event where the farming community come in to town to play. And it seeds as though Kate is a little sensitive to all the supporting uproar – made the noise of drums and blood / in the dark part of the heart.
Why the waving of white flags? An understanding of the game seems to be in question later in the poem. But the next thing of note was the half-time break and the distributing of cut oranges to the players. But then it got cold so you had the feeling it was not really very pleasant to be standing around.
The main memory then is the after game warmth of being home again and having toast and being with her mother to the extend of remembering colours in her mother’s pinafore.
Her father did not play football. If he had been involved she may have been educated in the game at a much earlier age. This gives force that she just went along with another girl for an introduction. One thing that obviously struck her was the strange perverse shape of the ball – balls should be round, so why this shape!
You must remember at that time sport was more male than female. And that this girl had little understanding and involvement with the game. And maybe her girl friend had more knowledge of ‘football’ and had asked her if she would like to come along for company. This poem is a statement of a view of the game from this perspective.
Our appreciation and involvement of sport is highly influenced by family and friends. Parents often get their children involved when very young. This can be a positive or negative. I am still interested to see how Southampton Football Club in the UK are going; at a great distance of course. This is purely because of going to see games with my father when I was about the same age as Kate in the above poem.
My father finished work at mid-day on a Saturday. And if ‘The Saints’ were playing at home I would sit with my brother in the back seat of the Morris Isis for the drive to Southampton. We did not go straight to the ground, there was always a stop at ‘The Sun’ pub where we waited in the back of the car with a soft drink and ‘Smiths’ crisps. It was dark and cold at the end of the day when we got back home so I can relate to Kate’s warm home words in her poem. Such pleasant memories wrap around me when I think of those times. And of course the ball was round!
Kate Llewellyn is is an award-winning Australian poet, author, diarist and travel writer. A link to Wikipedia.