Lyon (III)

The bottle cap must be removed

So you cannot throw the plastic bottle

Of water

I pour my drink

At the feet of the security staff

Toss the bottle in a bin

Meanwhile, standing under trees

On the walkway to the ground

Young men imbibe

Cases of cheap beer before the game

Inside they spew smoke from flares

That fills the cavernous stadium

Halt the game

Light fireworks

Spectators high in the stands

Make paper darts

From publicity handouts

That drift toward the seats below

A car firm distributes wands

For participation in the pre-match light show

There is goal celebration music

Large cardboard buckets

Of popcorn on spectators’ knees

It is football, Jules

But not as we know it.


n.b. Jules Rimet would be turning in his grave, as would Henri Delauney. These French football administrators worked together to set up the FIFA world cup and European competitions.

Delauney was a player and then referee before turning to administration full-time. His stint at refereeing ended when a ball hit him in the face, smashing his whistle down his throat and knocking out two teeth.

At the end of last night’s match Olympic Lyonnaise had scored two goals to the one of OCG Nice.

The trams back to the city centre were very efficient.

CLP 24/11/2019

Season’s End


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

to August,

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.



CLP  05/05/2018

Dedicated to Albert Perry “Grampy”