Watching my ancestral homeland lose
another game of continental footie
at least serves as a good enough excuse

to quaff a few cold beers. Italian ’90
was lost in the mist of my teenage angst,
and so, like those inebriate Japanese

who toast the blown blossom’s evanescence,
I toast the sharpness of Ukrainian grass,
our defence with more holes than a tramps pants,

the world can kiss my plastic paddy arse.


Canto CCXC

A scream from each household pierces the evening.
From every living room we hear the yell
of grown men unafraid to share their feelings.

My daughter stirs a moment, then she falls
back into groggy slumber, rowdy males
are yet to take their needy, show off toll

on her unhatched impatience for tall tales.
So much human happiness depends
on a white ball bouncing up a field

then bouncing down the other end again.


Those moments when your dear national team
are made to look like games lesson last picks—
the ones that lost their kit before the game

and played in vest and pants, having to kick
about in leather school shoes and black socks.
Cannon fodder for the sure and slick,

the first team’s whipping boys, barely marked
but tackled as soon as they get the ball.
And yet despite the route in the ball park,

the fans sing out their sorrows til they all
become the loudest chorus in Ukraine.
We sing on though we’re certain to default

in paying a four goal deficit to Spain.


It’s raining on our anniversary
and June’s bright sun skulks behind wadded clouds,
but we’re the furthest thing from misery,

though lack of sleep has sandpapered our moods
and daughter’s last poo stank of rotten cheese,
happiness and mad love still intrude

as we relive phone camera memories
of our best day til we feel we’re still there.
I sit down to watch Ireland play footie

and reacquaint myself with true despair.


It’s oddly fitting that the final day
of our thirtysomething, Zone 2 coupledom
would be a Sunday. The same old films play

on laundry day rotation, viscous calm,
where next week’s immanence dry humps the leg
of ticking, Sabbath sanctioned tedium.

Full time whistles end the hit-hoof lag
of nil-nil draws but will not help the climb
of mid table minnows in Sunday League.

In musty chapels, in half whispered rhymes,
congregations rote-petition God
until the droning sermon mumble comes

to send the most devout soul on the nod.
Hangovers prove trickier to shake,
Ibroprofen capsules are swallowed

in greater numbers than the glib intake
of thin communion wafers. Not long ’til
the sudden moment when your waters break,

and others face the dread of work or school.

Canto LIII

And so it ends, the All Blacks win at home,
after a tripwire taut 8-7 final,
a score to flatter France’s patchy form

and while they will go down in the annals
as runners up, they’ll be forever flattered,
although the world will otherwise be greatful

to them for leaving English hopes in tatters.
The tournaments in years to come will frame
the preening, diving, sobbing prima donnas

in what the naive call the beautiful game.
Of course I’ll get swept up, as I still do
when Ireland qualify or when West Ham

almost escape the relegation blues.
But wait, I missed that wee shindig in Stratford,
I’ll probably watch the highlights on the news

though, in hindsight, we all would have preferred
for it to be in gay Paris, and please
don’t tell me about legacy, it never

did much to bring the happy days to Greece.

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