(1966 / St Andrews, Scotland)


Halfway down the carriage, the cackling girl,
too loud for my introspective sensibilities,
turns out to be a bloke, someone Stoke City
might have let go, free transfer, circa 1980.
I think of the girl swimmer who rouses herself
at 6am, to knock through two hundred lengths,
but behind her back, her nickname is ‘Seventh'.
I want to hug those who make the semis, those
who dream on, those who reach county stage,
hit the under 21s then flood away. You triers,
you are okay, even decent, but you do flail
when the proper people nail you. Sorry, losers.
I am nothing much but I go for what I go for
because life has only offered me that much.
At the tail end. The senior circuit. Do you see
hills dipping through mist, dead legs, bullies
tipping something you loved into the lake?
You got to the last stage of the interview?
And now it's a balcony and the glass of wine
and the ciggy, which tastes vile, to the taste
of one who wins. We are quite content
to put ‘quarter-finalist' on your headstone,
okay about patting you and saying, softly,
‘you did quite well'. Come over, I am open
to talking this with you, I am only part winner,
I have been there in the suburb of all discontent.
My heart has been dubby. I have at times, oh,
at times, screwed. I look at you, bad players,
and think of time I have spent on my own,
the sad walk to hope. And now you are
out for a duck, taken off at half time. Your
Olympic dream remains a dream. Bad player.
Late light on the pitch calls you on and you
and, horror, I are going nowhere and we know
it's over. Heroes, we were something once.

by Roddy Lumsden

Other poems of LUMSDEN (33)

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