BACK IN TUEBINGEN IN NOVEMBER FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

BACK IN TUEBINGEN IN NOVEMBER FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

4.6.11

FOOTBALL POETRY











PIGGYBACK

My father took me piggyback
to the people's game.
I felt the surge of the Gallowgate end
beneath me
like the sea roaring
off Tynemouth.
I sensed the solidarity
of those football-mad days
and my little heart
swelled with a Magpie pride.
Black and white love
came to me early,
inherited down life's straining seasons.
The throbbing crowd
lifted me
over tough shoulders,
the passion
surging with me
to the front
where I could share
the yearning dreams
for just a little glory.
Those terraces lit up,
made the blue star glow.
We young and thirsty Geordies
learnt quickly
to get drunk
on the back
of flowing football.





I REMEMBER IVOR ALLCHURCH

Golden Boy,
I remember you
made me queue
with all the other Geordie lads
in one straight line
down the car park
for your autograph.
Patiently,
one by one,
you signed for us.
A Swansea son,
footballing gentleman,
all those years ago,
you impressed me
with your calm consideration:
a measured passer
of dignity
through generations.




*Ivor Allchurch (1929 -1997) played for Newcastle United 143 times between 1958 and 1962 and scored 46 goals.




'DAZZLER'

(in honour of Robert "Bobby" Carmichael Mitchell, 19/7/1924-8/4/1993)

Mine Host
of the twinkling left foot,
wing-raiding Scot,
this Border Reiver
was a man of magic,
made full backs disappear.
"Dazzler" we called him,
he tied the ball to his toes,
took it for a walk.
Wor Bobby bobbing along,
criss crossing
patterns
through flat defences.
His waving hair
streaked
under the waves
of "Popular Side" crowds:
classic moments
flickering on film,
roars on a soundtrack,
Cup goals laid
on a plate.




LEN IN BLACK AND WHITE

(in memory of Len White, 23/3/1930-17/6/1994)

Len White
was a hammer.
He rammed in goals
like rivets into a ship.
Len in black and white,
belter of a heavy ball,
whacker of leather bullets
with crafty head and clever feet.
Me and my old schoolmate Peter
saw you lash the Wolves,
sending a screamer
through the posts
to ignite Gallowgate
and set the Magpies chanting.
Uncapped hat-trick scorer,
153 goals merchant,
you deserve
a statue
of your own,
dedicated
to the Skellow lad
who became a Geordie
and will always be.






SUN OVER ST. JAMES' PARK

Sun sets on Empire,
a football sinking in the sky.
Dreams are gone,
the kicks we had.
I see their ghosts in The Strawberry night:
Len White and George Eastham,
Gordon Hughes and Liam Tuohy,
Alf McMichael, Jimmy Scoular.
Roaring Boys of one hue or another:
Alan Suddick and Jim Smith,
John McGrath and Dick Keith,
Dave Hilley and Andy Penman.
Stalwart lads from an industrial past,
hold on to those memories.
Golden Balls of light
shine on the surface of The Tyne,
ripple in the mind.
Great times were had
and peanuts tanner a bag.
Swaying lads on the Popular Side,
Oxo down our throats.
Chuck us a cup,
we're thirsty.

KEITH ARMSTRONG

These poems were published in the Newcastle United fanzine 'True Faith' as part of my poet-in-residence stint with the magazine

the jingling geordie

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whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur