It was seventeen years
since I played my last match...
I played again that day.
I was the youngest of the old boys -
55 now and no hemiplaegia
or balance problems for me,
No frontal lobe trauma or bits of fits
or seizures -
I've been lucky.
I bossed the midfield.
Against blokes ten or more years older
I suddenly felt bolder
and was amused at shouts of
"Mark the Young Man, get the Young Fella,
get That Lad, GET 'IM!"
Some were just old-timers,
Some stroke survivors or pals with Alzheimers,
had been very good in their time,
Made me wonder if I had been good in mine.
If you watched you would see
one or two with league experience,
A semi-pro or two,
even a lesser-known Charlton brother,
all better than me.
But on that playing-field we were for a spell
The years rolled back
as we rolled the ball and strolled,
united by our common goal.
No losers today,
our sportsmanship and sedate pace
meant we all saved face,
No silver cups or medals either
and the pitch was not exactly Wembley.
But players and fans of football
are dreamers one and all,
And memories and dreams forever
Abide With Me.
In the minibus after
some aches and pains from dodgy knees
and a bit of wry laughter.
Memories of youth and joy cut short
by debts or divorce,
grinding work or days in court.
Elbow sang us back to Bury on the radio,
"One Day Like This".
And as we counted down the motorway miles,
in the silences between
the swearing and smiles
We recalled what great footballers -
what good and happy men -
we all had been.
Forty years ago, or twenty-five...