Sunday, 11 July 2010

World Cup Woe

Are any other bookish sorts trapped into watching the World Cup final tonight?

I don't hate football at all, I find the punditry and politics quite interesting and I enjoy the face of Alan Hansen. I also feel a maternal lump rise in my throat as small children are led out onto the pitch, a stirring national anthem swells and tone deaf players mumble along to words they blatantly don't know.

Penalties destroy me.

Football has a lot going for it, but matches are 90 minutes long and I don't understand the rules so I shall be perusing yesterday's collection of sporting poems in yesterday's Guardian as collated by our Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy who contributes this gem:

The Shirt
Afterwards, I found him alone at the bar
and asked him what went wrong. It's the shirt,
he said. When I pull it on it hangs on my back
like a shroud, or a poisoned jerkin from Grimm
seeping its curse onto my skin, the worst tattoo.
I shower and shave before I shrug on the shirt,
smell like a dream; but the shirt sours my scent
with the sweat and stink of fear. It's got my number.
I poured him another shot. Speak on, my son. He did.
I've wanted to sport the shirt since I was a kid,
but now when I do it makes me sick, weak, paranoid.
All night above the team hotel, the moon is the ball
in a penalty kick. Tens of thousands of fierce stars
are booing me. A screech owl is the referee.
The wind's a crowd, forty years long, bawling a filthy song
about my Wag. It's the bloody shirt! He started to blub
like a big girl's blouse and I felt a fleeting pity.
Don't cry, I said, at the end of the day you'll be back
on 100K a week and playing for City.


  1. I saw the world cup last night and cheered Spain on! (I'm half Spanish) It was such a great moment and it feels wonderful to finally win!

  2. I saw that poem earlier and it cracked me up :D

    I don't hate football either - in fact, I quite enjoy the World Cup and shall miss it now that it's over. But like you, I remain to this day somewhat unclear on all the rules :P

  3. Mrs B, they did deserve to win and it's nice that Spain have had a great sporting week with the lovely Nadal winning Wimbledon and now the world cup.

    Nymeth, I have tried to understand the off-side rule but I am usually asleep once the explanation is finished. Football is best viewed over the top of a good book I think!

  4. The World Cup is the reason I'm behind on Middlemarch. I totally devoted my afternoon to watching the World Cup. Then I felt really bad for all the people downtown in their orange shirts and painted faces, looking bedraggled. It was a slow game though, because they were so evenly matched.

  5. I know! The losing supporters always look so pathetic with their streaky paint running down sad, sad faces. I may be a little too sensitive for football...