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 ]





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Greg Freeman

Wed 9th Sep 2020 09:08

Pele? You must have been good. Excellent poem, Trevor, which I hadn't spotted at the time. Worth reminding us, amid all the glory of '66, how Pele was kicked out of it early on. Ironically, it was Portugal who did that to him. Eusebio subsequently won plaudits as 'the new Pele'. So good that functional old England disposed of them in the semi-final. I can be as patriotic as the next man when it comes to football! Going back to your poem, I like the way it portrays grassroots football, down at the rec, in fact. We played there every night for two months in the summer of 66.

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Stephen Gospage

Sun 26th Jul 2020 17:58

Thanks for this, Trevor. Yes, it was such a tragedy to see him kicked out of the World Cup in 1966. Some things have improved in the game. At least he gave us unforgettable moments in Mexico in 1970 (not to mention 1958 and 1962, although I was too young to remember!)

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