At last wind from the sea is welcome.
Dust not leaf litter blows along gutters
Pollarded beech trees add leafy tints
to Frensham Road.
The movement of people is looser
in summer shorts, blue shirt tops,
although blue and white of Pompey scarves
is still worn despite cricket weather heat.
Excitable sons gambol alongside
long-striding men looking ahead
ignoring twelve mid-year weeks,
while grandads show gentle interest,
kindly coaxing little lads back
onto root-lifted pavements,
answering high-pitched questions about who might play
and why another favourite won’t
and this and that and, and, and…Grandpa?
A block-shaped car
is parked particularly precisely,
a wheeled chair is removed,
unfolded, locked into shape
and careful, strong-gripped manoevres
position a determined animated,
colourfully dressed fan,
safe into place, ready to roll
to sit in concreted shade,
where eyes sharpened,
alight to athletic movement
on mown patterns, across white lines
pitched between flag-marked corners,
watch keenly every detail of pre-match
preparation and ritual.
Contrast from the shadowing South Stand,
marks near black on brilliant green,
cuts so sharp that momentary
sight loss flickers in eyes squinting
to adjust as they chase
colours, given stronger tone
by Sun set high with a perfect seat,
but who has to drag herself reluctantly away out west
before the final whistle,
but only after pouring one last gulped pint
of welcome warmth
into sun-glassed faces.
Impenetrable bright sky, sets off the scene in blue hue not seen inland,
so blue that stars behind become anxious
they will not get on to play tonight.
Wide-winged gulls’ cries of the sea are drowned at birth,
over-whelmed, engulfed in waves of voices,
by microphoned, amplified announcements,
strong rhythms, clapping, chants and songs.
For some this is the last match.
No substitute will step in when they get pulled from the pitch.
Some will know their part near played up,
others will depart the game in shock,
their removal a surprise to all.
Unfair, unwarned and fiercely questioned,
why did they get The Manager’s call?
Yet another sign of unfathomable tactics.
Next season, last game in fresh May
their names will be on the lips
of the man who reads The List
of those who once so happily
trooped along to Fratton Park.
Dedicated to Albert Perry “Grampy”