THE BEAUTIFUL GAME / 1966
When I was Edson Arantes Do Nascimento,
It seemed everyone knew my name.
From the back streets of Botafogo
To Midlands housing estate,
We played the beautiful game. In the
Shadow of electricity pylon, its arms
Outstretched in pose of Christ at Corcovado,
The Maracanã transposed from Rio de Janeiro.
Streetlight illuminating the stadium.
There was no Portuguese in the language we spoke,
Our folk were black country, where, long after dark,
In street and park, matches of world significance
Were played with feverish intensity, as
On our way home, I was bequeathed the name,
And henceforth known, as ‘Pele’, by a fraternity
Of friends and foe alike, my real name subsumed.
A secondary ‘nom-de-plume’.
His name, among global icons, a beacon of our time,
Underlined by grainy black and white film
Broadcast by Pathe’ News, to the Royal Picture House.
Our fanaticism fuelled by the beat of Bossa Nova rhythms
Filtering through the screen; lifting the veil
Between audience and spectacle,
Breathless sighs palpable from Cradley to Brazil.
We waited patiently for his coming,
Welcoming the day he came to play on our shore,
Only to be kicked ‘till he could take no more.
His part in the greatest spectacle on the planet, cut short.
History records who won,
Heroes emerging with English names.
The beautiful game now played to a different beat.
Another dream to be lived out in another street.
[ Edson Arantes do Nascimento / Pele ]