Not so much as an Inkling (2018)


While whiling away a month
kicking a bloated football
against a wall
it was when I was lanky
rather than tall.

The old adage
in advanced age
is ‘If only I knew then what I know now’
as if you could ever know anything somehow.

What do you think? Do you think it’s true?
Guess it must be to be said so often
by so many men and women.
But back to me, and that bloated football
and what would bounce back when I got tall
with not so much as an inkling as to what would be in store.



I first kicked a ball in the sixties
but grew up with football in the seventies
when 1st division players, before today’s immaculate green,
often left the pitch with mud on their 1st division knees
and strips stood out in grey on black ’n’ white tellies
and the World Cup was the only chance to see the best players
you’d never ever seen.

The first such final I know I saw
was West Germany’s defence in 1974
being taken apart by Johann Cruyff
when I was on his side, supporting legends and folklore.
As often happens, the team you don’t want to win will score
And West Germany did twice, to end that match once and for all.

I was 10
and I’d be over the moon if I could be again
to watch that goggle-box with those goggling eyes
when, within a minute or so, the Dutch superstar had dribbled
into the penalty box to Uli Hoeneß’s surprise.
In the end, it was total disappointment to see total football fall
but for a kid dreaming of halls of fame it was a total hall.



And so I went to the train station
and looked up at the great glass roof ceiling in iron
from where timepieces hung
and from where black suits swung.

Leather-faced passengers
shuffled slowly along in queues, bunched,
with feet in their luggage up to their knees
sticking out their ticket tongues
to have them punched.

And when the announcement told me
which platform to go to, I got on
and fell asleep in my seat to dream
‘til when the locomotive would run out of steam.



Beating the alarm clock to it
I woke up earlier than its luminous time set.
I deliberated, consulted with the cat
and, a minute later, I was having a slash.

Morning routine is mechanical rather than robotic.
Kitchen, kettle on, cup from washing-up rack,
instant decaffeinated coffee, milk, and Special K (or similar).
Yesterday’s cat biscuits thrown out to be replaced by more.

It’s not that early so it’s light already.
It’s June here (and everywhere) so the sky is a pale blue.
Swifts (or swallows? I’m no ornithological expert) circle in unison.
There’s not a cloud to be seen.

I usually watch the news, but today the radio;
What colour are his eyes? I don’t know. He always wears shades! for example!
An average day ahead with a pleasant start, sat outside on my balcony.
I’ll let you know if it turns out to be anything out-of-the-ordinary.



Police say body found dead
has been named as John

…er… mo.

A shed-load of witnesses have stepped forward
and have been practising saying his name in a shed.
While they can’t vouch for what he’s called
Police say they’re helping them with their enquiries
as to why he’s dead.


You’re thinking about going home
‘cause you’ve been away too long.
Rose Tinted Airlines and their planes
zoom round your head like round King Kong

but the only thing flying is your imagination on beer and wine
playing bass guitar on your balcony’s washing line;
girls blowing kisses like stars to friends they can’t stop for
and procession boys with I- phone candles
lighting up their faces
nailed to the floor….

and you still thinking about going home
‘cause you’ve been away too long.


Lip-smacking, hook-slinging,
light-housing, rock ’n’ rolling, spleen-splitting,
gut-wrenching, gout-limping, will-writing, off-putting,
downloading, modern-living, Machiavellian-moving, match-losing,
time-wasting, straight-talking, down-wrecking,
river-jumping, con-killing, money-grabbing you.

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