When I was Edson Arantes Do Nascimento,

It seemed everyone knew my name.

From the back streets of Sao Paulo, to Midlands council estate,

We played the beautiful game; in the shadow of electricity pylon,

Its arms outstretched in pose of Christ in Corcovado.

The Maracanã, transposed from Rio to cul-de-sac,

Lamplight illuminating the stadium.


When reputation preceded my arrival in local parks,

Long after dark, matches of world significance

Were played with feverish intensity,

Between teams of up to 20 a-side; battling

Through fading light, as park gates locked around us.


There was no Portuguese in the language we spoke,

Our folk were black-country,

Though my skin tone suggested otherwise.

The ‘Black Pearl’ and I, thereby, having more than skill in common.


His colour, among global icons, a beacon of our time,

Underlined by grainy black and white pictures,

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 Heath to Brazil.


And me, content at that time, to be defined in his reflection,

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’.


We welcomed the day he came to play on our shore.

Our childhood lost to adolescence,

We knew the score.  Kicked and bruised, we lost our muse.

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.




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Frances Macaulay Forde

Tue 12th Feb 2019 14:37

Great stuff - immersive writing very well done.

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trevor homer

Tue 12th Feb 2019 14:31

I wrote this for the Wolvo. Lit. Fest. knowing it to be a 'football' city, and having played for Wolves junior team in my youth.

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