We want to show off the ‘unknown’ and ‘known’ bards of all footballing countries to the world, demonstrating the cultural heritage and passion for football from across the footballing spectrum.
Our venture is called ‘Primo Poetica’, translation ‘First Poetry’, nodding to it being the first of its kind, illustrating its inception out of the first international football stadium ever built, ‘Hampden Park’, and demonstrating the ‘international themed’ mission to pass the ‘poetry of football’ around the world.
So the ultimate question? Do you believe you have a football themed poem, which will strike a chord with the world?
Submit your poem here, English, Scots or Gaelic, or if you want to do it in another language? We really want to stir the World with our mission.
Stuart Kenny, Makar of Primo Poetica, will select the best ones to be posted through the coming weeks and months, promiting the culture, passion and love for the beautiful game.
We look forward to reading and publishing the best submissions! See the published submissions below.
PRIMOPOETICA50 – Glass Half Full
The place erupts as a Pique own-goal draws us even!
And once again we have something big to believe in.
Maybe this time? Just maybe we won’t end up grievin’.
Well… f***. Never mind.
A half-empty pint glass flies in slow-motion over our heads,
misses the pub TV screen
and bounces clean off the wall instead
as Fernando Llorente puts Spain 3-2 up in the 79th minute.
2-0 down, and we got it back to 2-2,
only – of course – to go on and lose.
Tomorrow we’ll say ‘brave’ this, ‘valiant comeback’ that,
Spain are World Champions and all that sort of chat –
but for now we just look and we don’t say a word
and the glass-throwing rogue getting thrown out is all that is heard.
His old pint glass rolls slowly around the floor of the pub, and
when Whittaker gets sent off we just sit there and shrug.
And in the decade that follows we fall for much of the same,
but the pint glasses refills with every year the names change,
and you might think that after all that we’d just want to leave
but they always… they always find a way to make you believe.
And you know – Steve Clarke did get us into a major competition,
and Andy Robertson’s the captain; a man on a mission,
and we beat Cyprus 3-0 in front of the Hampden roar
and we’ve beaten the French and the Dutch and them all here before.
So my glass is half full, even if we are playing Spain.
I truly think that we’ve got a shot (though I may sound insane).
So I’ll get a pint. I won’t throw it – even if we concede,
because they always find a way to make you believe.
by Stuart Kenny
PRIMOPOETICA49 – Guancos Eating Shrubs
guanacos care not about penalties as they sit,
furry necks craned down to the floor,
on shrubs beneath the drifting sun.
puma lies lazily in a canyon cave nearby,
from the heat,
a cloud of Darwin’s lesser rhea
ostrich-like creatures) kick up dust.
the steppe a pair of condors circle,
for anything dead,
bushy-tailed mountain viscachas perch on the cliff-edge
bake in the heat of the Patagonian summer.
down by the river, the children wear Argentina shirts.
has Alvarez on the back, and the others have you-know-who
Messi! Messi! Messi!
shout his name at me as I come walking through
dirty hiking boots, a scorched neck, a stuffed red pack
wearing the Argentinian blue and white;
home kit, stolen from brother, with ‘Heinze’ on the back.
the chef back at camp wears international colours
he dodges the smoke of the asado and the chorizos are spun.
biologist recalls how tractor horns sounded
the penalty went in, and sent the lesser rheas off to run.
photographer, with Lio on his lock screen,
me a video from the Obelisco de Buenos Aires,
the country that went crazy when Argentina – when Messi – won;
the Patagonian steppe over to the wetlands,
the capital city whose celebrations left the world stunned.
now, Buenos Aires has run out of replica shirts to sell.
here, is natural as the flocks of fluffy guanacos,
circling condors, the puma hiding in the shrubs –
is native; built-in. Ecosystem. The rising and setting of the sun.
by Stuart Kenny
(Celebrating the 800th career goal for Club and Country of Lionel Messi)
PRIMOPOETICA48 – MIND YON?
They went before us, so they did.
The finest players we ever hid.
McKay, Baxter, Young and Co.
We didn’t see them, but their names we know.
Jim Baxter’s in the dictionary they say without malice.
He’s under “G”. “G” for gallus.
Then came or guys, ye mind them, eh?
Jordan, Bremner, Jinky, Hay.
Oh, they were good back in the day.
Ah mind wan time at Hampden Park,
Before the days ae Billy Stark,
A young Diego came – real slim –
I wonder whatever became ae him.
We’ve seen some talent, you and I.
Ye get tae Hampden – have a pie.
Get on the steps to watch the gemme,
Troosers up – mind the hem.
Martin Buchan, Kenny Burns.
Lou Macari, Twists’n’Turns.
Big Jim Holton, eyes of blue.
Six foot two, he’s efter you.
Maurice Malpas, Danny McGrain.
When will we see their likes again?
But mind yon effin goalie.
Five at Wembley – bloody toalie.
Stuart Kennedy? Aye, that was him.
Jeez, that day – oh, that was grim.
David Harvey, Asa Hartford,
Big John Greig – break yer leg
Ronnie MacKinnon, Charlie Cooke,
Man ye could write a book.
Many a magician wi’ a baw.
I look back, I’ve seen them aw, man.
The King. The Man. The Denis Lawman.
By John Daly
PRIMOPOETICA47 – smith
#Fitba150 – This poem is from Dumbarton FC’s Poet In Residence, and former Hampden Collection Poet In Chief, celebrating the 150th birthday of Dumbarton Football Club; born on this day, 23rd December 1872.
PRIMOPOETICA46 – 30 November 1872 – The First International
The first international call-up;
The first ‘you made the squad’
The first gaffer deciding who’ll get the nod.
The first shock absentees
The first paying attendees
shouting the first heartfelt expletives at the first referees:
That wis over the line ref! You don’t have a clue!
How we still getting these calls wrong? It’s 1872!
Even still man, that striker – he’s just got to score –
av no seen a miss that bad since the Jacobite War!
The first goal-line controversy
The first defensive howler
The first ‘I got the ball ref!’ from a cynical fouler.
The first ‘one game at a time’
The first ‘he’s got to shoot!’
The first ‘game of two halves’
The first ‘cultured left-foot’.
The first ‘good touch for a big man!’
The first genius stroke
The first ‘aye he’s good but could he do it
on a Tuesday night in Stoke’?
The first international football match,
and of course it was fate,
despite Scotland’s 2-2-6 formation,
and England’s 1-1-8 –
That what the 4,000 fans who turned up saw,
Was a hard-fought battle: and the first 0-0 draw.
By Stuart Kenny
PRIMOPOETICA45 – Pies and Bovril
3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon
1.45 in winter
when bitter winds would bite me
in places I never knew I had
as I watched the AC Millan of North Glasgow
turn on the style
for the few hundred die hard supporters
no TV cameras or live reports from this game
where the travelling fans often outnumbered
those cheering a home win
most seasons we would start off with optimism
before sliding to mid table mediocrity
and an early exit from the Scottish cup
moaning about our bad luck
or the fact our opponents came from Ayrshire or the Lothians
two of Junior football’s strongest regions
this meant like most Glasweigan teams we struggled
but we kept on trying
there was no denying our players gave their all
I would always stand behind the goal nearest the entrance
but I’d never leave before full time
junior or senior the song the remains the same
and you don’t just sing when your winning
this was the place I first saw Tommy Burns
parade the silky skills
which would make him a Celtic legend
and where the queue
for pies and bovril
was never the quite the length
of that for the burger stall
in the place he made his name
this was a land
about as far away from fame as you could get
though blood sweat and tears were still shed
in the name of the jersey
and the colours we shared with giants
By Gayle Smith
PRIMOPOETICA44 – Mexican Sunday
A boy genius he became
one of the greats of the game
his silky skills the passport to fame
which would prove to be a blessing
and a curse
at 18 he displayed his skills
just weeks after Scotland
was yoked to the chains of Thatcherism.
When the world champions brought their stars
to our national stadium
we witnessed a teenage sensation
destroying our defence
older heads told us we’ve not got
a player like him in our team
like we hadn’t noticed
and they blamed the PE teachers
rather than acknowledging the fact
this boy had something special
that extra touch of class
that separates the brilliant from the ordinary.
Growing up in poverty he perfected the skills
which would mark him the best of his generation
he would play on the world’s biggest stages
Mexico 86 was his finest hour
leading his country to world cup glory
his was the story of angels and demons
as a Glasweigan I recognised
both had kissed his boots
in Napoli and Barcelona
he showed both majesty and madness
which would follow him like stalkers
hunting their prey
As the fame began to fade
his face showed signs of the troubles to come
drink and drugs the ruin of so many heroes
added him to their causality list
with Garrincha Greaves and Best
at least he was in good company
when a heart attack brought to an end
a life cut short
Adios, Diego Armando Maradonna
the stars will guide your ascension to heaven
as a thank you for the memories
and songs that were sung in your name
by the army you entertained in 79
who later wore your colours as a mark of respect
for the events of a Mexican Sunday
By Gayle Smith
PRIMOPOETICA43 – Ballet on the pitch
The ball tolls like a dice roll
Bouncing off all the pregame odds
From tie to favour, idling to goal
Fans erupt, back to their half the victor trots
Back pass to defender
Shin puled by a sliding boot
A header to centre
Midfield to front, foot to foot
Anticipated but feared demise
Jeers spread all around
Confine fainting hope to equalise
Before the final whistle resounds
And in the last breath of game’s time
Predictions could cruelly seal fate
Unless under strain coach finds
A thriving tactic to dominate
Present perfect before simple present:
They have slugged, sped, and twirled
Tactics lost to evanescence
The ball poorly kicked and hurled
But now one tosses the ball up high
Testing God’s very might
For it may reach heaven’s sky
Before being returned with smite
And upon its return a stroke of genius is evoked
Through majestic movements a striker commits
To place himself and the keeper toe to toe
And finds net after some brilliancy on the pitch
Earthlings around the roaring field
Some fear they may be left bereft
From triumph which rival may steal
After a tackle is reproved by ref
A penalty given, yet another more
and to everyone’s surprise
Both teams score
And venture to equalise
Uproar, cries, and hellish shouts
Cannot stop ref to change course
Nor hinder a penalty shootout
When fruitless extra time causes furore
Yet whatever result will close the night
Was its highlight not that graceful display
One that treated each attendant in sight
Of that fine performance of grass field ballet
By Jeroen van Herk
PRIMOPOETICA42 – The Oystercatchers Call Full Time
The winning team
Doesn’t mean the best team,
They are sometimes simply the winners.
A cry goes up,
A goal scored
At the Pickaquoy infield,
In the giant’s soap dish
Lined with green baize
Where teenagers grapple
Winners and losers.
Heads hang as if on pins,
Gazes fall with
Unfamiliar vertical rain.
Soft, not storm-force driven.
Balm for the tulip-red face
Of the central defender
Who roars for flags,
Voice crashing like a wave
Over the giddy contest
Of hardest and fastest,
To control the sphere that travels through space, and on and on and on….
A dizzy speck in the whirlpool of time.
The white mid-summer evening sun
Is in every drop of rain and sweat.
by Gabrielle Barnby
(Under 15s Final, Kirkwall)
PRIMOPOETICA41 – What We Talk About When We Talk About James McFadden
Tosh McKinley, Davie Weir;
Named with a smile in recognition
as another glass of whisky
feeds the memories and stories too.
Remember when Christian called them cheats?
As night becomes day,
the sky having gone from dark blue,
home strip ‘98
all the way to the sunshine yellow.
Matt Elliot, Neil McCann;
Names as much a soundtrack as the light, unnoticed music
which forms a bed to familiar chants.
Oh aye, remember him? What a player, by the way!
Stephen Pearson, Gary Rae;
Their shots, their passes,
allowing us to relive
through the highlights forever playing in our head.
Don Hutchison, both the Caldwells;
Same time every night,
we meet up to give them all that great gift –
a sacred shard of memory.
by Darren Sempie
PRIMOPOETICA40 – More than one side
Blue on the shirts, on the fans, on the stands;
and yellow on the badge, on the kits, on the flags.
We, made of flesh and fingers and hands
with hearts wrapped in football
and hopelessly caught in the colours of our land.
We are all here made up of the same things:
of pipedreams and passion and corner kicks;
of dayjobs and daydreams and mortar and bricks;
of community and history and hope and heroics
and fear and family and faith and football.
But now, we can only look and admire your strength.
Each thing we are is just one, essential part of us; one side.
And we, who have so much in common
and who love and who cry and who dream every night.
The worst thing that could have happened happened to you,
warrior nation – and you have our solidarity in your fight.
This game has us rivals, but we welcome you with open arms
today and tomorrow and truly for as long as it takes.
So aye, we’ll cheer on our bonnie boys, and
our lion rampant wrapped in yellow, surrounded by blue.
But make no mistake – that we stand with you.
Each thing we are is just one, essential part of us; one side
But there is so much in common that makes up us all.
Today we are all blue and yellow and stand tall.
Today we are family and faith and football.
by Stuart Kenny, Primo Poetica Makar
(Stephen Kenny’s debut poem as Primo Poetica Makar, ahead of Scotland v Ukraine, 3rd Hampden, 1st June 2022)
PRIMOPOETICA39 – An Ode to Italia ‘90
(A Scotland fan at Il Mondiale, Le Coupe du Monde, The World Cup Finals)
In ’89 I started the dance,
Lost 3 – 0 away pissed up in France,
As a spotty young lad the journey began,
Of a life on the road among the Brigands,
Life would never be ‘normal’ again.
Damp nights at Hampden, excitement abounds,
We beat France 2-0 before a big crowd,
Soaked to the skin, we scream “get in”,
And a draw with Norway is really a win.
We then sank a few pinties for ITALIA ’90.
I saved up my pennies, it is no free lunch,
Got a place on a bus with a tartan bunch,
45 hours went by in a drinking haze,
We arrived in Italy… crazy world cup days!,
Full of joy optimism & hope.
The noise & the flags were a sight to behold,
Even the booze ban could not make us less bold,,
A nice easy start, Costa Rica to thrash,
We got a smack in the puss, they’re not quite so bad,
Take stock and lick your wounds.
Next up were the Swedes, they were great fun,
The party was started with the rise of the sun,
Nae booze again, it’s banned so they say,
But if yer a Jock, there’s always a way,
Heatstroke and victory, hungover all day!!!
The last was a party, opponents Brazil!,
We gave them a game and lost just 1-nil,
The party was epic despite the defeat,
Glorious failure, yet another repeat,
A Scottish tradition no gain, just pain.
We went home in a convoy with many a bus,
60 plus coaches at Calais, what a fuss!
The mood remained buoyant despite all the pain,
Save up for 4 years let’s do it again,
… and race home before the postcards by plane.
by Scott Kelly
NB: This is an ode to the memories of my first World Cup. Tartan Army Footsoldier
PRIMOPOETICA38 – Where YA Going Joe?
Where ya goin Joe?
Off to Queens Park Ma
What you doin there Joe
Having a game with the lads Ma
You still playing football Joe?
Aye we are, Ma.
Who’s rules you following Joe?
We’re making up our own Ma
Why you doing that Joe?
Because the current ones don’t make sense Ma
Well I don’t understand Joe
-Nor do the English Ma
They just like dribbling Ma
What do you lads do Joe?
We pass the ball Ma,
Sounds like more fun Joe,
It is Ma,
Away with you Joe!
Joe hurried along to the park
Met up with his friends
Kicked around, played for a lark
Had sweaters for goal posts and swapped ends
We need a name for the team
We can create a club
A name with some esteem
How about The Football Club?
Someone said “No -That’s been used before”
How about where we play?
“Good idea I like that more”
“Queens Park FC “they all say
That name will be revered
It will be remembered
The guys in the park
The guys in Queens Park
We’ll have a motto: “to play for the sake of playing.”
But it’ll be in Latin
“Ludere causa Ludendi”
That’s what they’ll be saying!
Then one day in 1872,
They gave Scotland their shirts of Deep blue,
There was Bob & Bill and the Smith brothers too
and Jim and Bob Leckie & Alex too
Billy, Jerry and David as well as Joe who
Played for the Queens and Scotland too.
That was the first international game
Scottish origins through and through
Scotland had invented the passing game,
They invented the stadium too
They built a stadium and called in Hampden
Probably named after the terrace nearby
They took the name with them
It was a fortress in those early days without a lie!
They should never be forgotten
This band of brothers
This was not misbegotten
They had ideas like no others
They were the founders of the beautiful game we now know
This first XI
Now all resting in heaven
And they were all part of it – including Ma Taylor and her son Joe
by Colin Taylor
* Colin is Joseph Taylor’s Great Grandson. Joseph Taylor represented Scotland in the world’s first international football match at West of Scotland Cricket Ground, Partick, St Andrew’s Day, 1872
PRIMOPOETICA37 – When scotland win
we put away
re-open kists of forgotten
as wide as the Tay,
as deep as Loch Ness.
We celebrate in ridiculous styles
pie or patch each other,
pump victorious fists.
When Scotland win
like no-one else can,
sing ourselves hoarse
raise a crystal glass of finest malt
to dark blue heroes
and those gone before,
– to everyone and anyone.
When Scotland win
wipe a welcome tear,
toast legends one by one.
Dennis Law—European Footballer of the Year
King Kenny’s hundred caps.
We applaud them all
from Jock Stein and Sir Alex
to our new heroes Stevie Clarke
and Super John McGinn.
When Scotland win – so do we.
by Jenifer Harley
PRIMOPOETICA36 – CEDED PASSION
here comes the middle class singing
here comes the corporate coffer fills
here comes nothing to do with passion
here comes another game on Murdoch’s box
here comes San Marino playing for free
here comes another night in the Shed
here comes another night with Mogadon Miller
here comes the voices of self-important flagellation
here comes a thorn in the memory of back then
here comes the headlines of plucky endeavour
a match igniting the fuel of hope
an undying love for the game
despite the exclusion of a nation
here comes the parade of inflated heads,
the recycled line of apathy and blindness
there’s nothing else – we ceded passion
to corporate greed a long time ago
so if you can afford Murdoch’s ransom
can afford a ticket to watch our Country,
enjoy the game. I wish you well but
I’ll listen with the excluded on my radio
In the shed
trying to let Mogadon Miller make me believe
I’m still invited.
by Jim Mackintosh
PRIMOPOETICA35 – My Ball
Cast on and count,
Knit the minutes to half time,
Loop, pull through, cast off
Pass, move, receive.
Unravelled three times
This the fourth attempt,
Knit, purl, knit, purl,
Win, loose, win, loose.
Accurate rows end in purl,
Sure shots find the net,
Patterns drift and slip,
Eyes hook to the screen.
No hobby or game,
It’s passion, it’s soul,
Each imperfection a
Thread of compassion.
by Gabrielle Barnby
PRIMOPOETICA34 – Well, I Didn’t See That Coming
I am bottom of the Euros Predictor League –
I‘ve been constantly in shock this past month.
I’m starting to find that I’m getting fatigued;
being surprised all the time is so tough.
I took a shower earlier this morning
and got surprised when I got wet.
My landlord just asked for the rent without warning,
but I lost all my cash on a France-to-Win bet.
Today I got hit by a car, as I was crossing the road;
I just can’t seem to see what’s coming next.
Thought me and my wife were in love and it showed;
but yesterday she just packed up and left.
I can’t drink anymore. I can’t eat, I can’t bite
because I can’t pick my jaw off the floor.
I keep hoping each game I might guess something right,
I can’t take all this shock anymore.
I am bottom of the Euros Predictor League,
and Harry Kane has just scored another tap-in.
I am bottom of the Euros Predictor League.
I did not predict this would happen.
By Stuart Kenny
PRIMOPOETICA33 – Stopping a Heart
This is not that flutter in the chest:
the striker in the beat before the shot
your eyes following the feint
the turf torn by the slide – this is not that.
This is another hidden heart –
not the pain of one week’s work
expiated on a Saturday – not
the consolation goal sincerely cheered.
This is the gene that anyone might have.
A man my age and many times my skill –
the spasm and the family on the screen.
Defibrillating – stop-starting –
clip after clip on someone’s phone
repeating the collapse, the miscontrol
the error in the blood.
And so I must admit that when I saw
his team around him and his team
pushing forward against mine
a part of me, a heart inside a heart
betrayed my country and – I have no proof –
I think that treason was enjoyed
all through the summer by the chanting crowds.
by James Appleby
* For one of the many who played at Hampden Park
** Check out more from James at his website – www.jamesapplebywriting.co.uk
PRIMOPOETICA32 – I Just Love Rammstein
It’s not ‘anyone but England’, it’s just my girlfriend’s a German,
so my support for her country is well predetermined.
She has a heart gold like Tennents & beautiful eyes,
so I want Deutschland to win, or I’m afraid she might cry!
It’s not ‘anyone but England’, it’s just German football is great –
They don’t rob the supporters as they go through the gates!
Free public transport on game days – the sport serves the fans,
And a wee guy even comes round to sell you beer in the stands!
It’s not ‘anyone but England’, but German songs are real funny:
Eine Straße, viele Bäume, Ja das ist eine Allee!
I love Berlin, old castles, Eintracht, Maultaschen & Rammstein –
so if Deutschland drop out at all, I’ll have to call: nein, nein, nein!
It’s not ‘anyone but England’, I don’t think Southgate is cursed,
but I don’t mean ‘sausage’ when I say that these brats are the worst!
So Los Geht’s die Mannschaft! To the trophy, I’ll shout –
(and I suppose it’d be a wee bonus, if it was England they knocked out).
by Stuart Kenny
PRIMOPOETICA31 – Morning O The Match
Friday 18 June 2021, London
Dreich Friday ower Vauxhall
was like being back hame
sheltering ootside oor Travelodge
breakfast pokes frae Waitrose next door.
Then aff intae Starbucks
jist roond the red bus bend
fur a hawf and a hawf
(steamed milk and mocha)
and a crack aboot the match
at 185 Euros a pop
as much as a season ticket wi Rovers
but nae sae much fun.
By eleven the rain eased
tae jist a doonpour
but didnae dampen oor spirits
(the boozer wid cum later, and so it did.)
Waded across tae Vauxhall tube
replica shirts, bravado, kilts
Oyster cards at the ready
oxters dripping wi excitement
confident but no arrogant
unlike oor hosts
hae faith in Clarke’s team
tae dae what we needed.
Fur in nine hoors time
we wid be thrashing the Engerlish
though a draw wid be fine
then bring on Croatia.
by Alun Robert
PRIMOPOETICA30 – street football
Let`s get sentimental
about a simpler time.
When cars kept to the main road.
Our street our very own Hampden.
Best jumpers on the ground
new bought shoes, scuffed scored
with every scrape on tarmac
in search of the Jules Rimet
held aloft eternal moment.
Once my imagination
grew me wings to fly
in search of the last minute
World Cup winner.
Fellow street football dreamers,
TV millions, paused in leaned forward
pose, anticipating diving header glory.
The ball escaped the desperate grasping fingers
of the goalie, final whistle blew for dinner time.
Jules Rimet trophy was coming home.
Nose squashed and bounced on the tarmac pitch.
Pain unnoticed till Tomato Soup
Forgotten with Banana Angel Delight.
Let`s get sentimental
Win or lose on the TV screen.
We all play for Scotland.
By Tom Murray
PRIMOPOETICA29 – Th’ Nicht Afore
Twas th’ nicht afore Scootlund-Englain ‘n aw throo th’ hoose;
ah wis sticking up picters ‘a Robert th’ Bruce;
when wha does appear bit th’ ghost o’ th’ auld king himself!
Juist cam ootae ma wall chart – right neist tae mah shelf!
He says – how come yur sticking up a’ thae auld drawings o’ me?
I say – yiv beat thaim afore, and a’m waantin’ tae git a’ th’ hulp that we need’!
Rab said tak’ thaim doon ‘n stick up photies o’ th’ laddie McGinn;
see ahm th’ auld king o’ Scotland – he’ll be th’ king whin we win!
By Stuart Kenny
PRIMOPOETICA28 – Thistle and Wattle
1 – Thistle
In Melbourne, football earned eternal fame
Through ball in hand and scrimmaging till dark’;
One Scot proposed a scientific game
While going by the pseudonym “Queen’s Park” –
‘1LRV’ penned letters to the press
Then ‘Rangers’ raged and ‘Vale of Leven’ too,
And ‘Old Dumbreek’ felt ‘Clydeslale’s’ great distress
For ‘Clydesdale’ feet not hands was fitba true.
In Sydney Town the Scots did fan the flame,
The Parkgrove Pilgrims, Caledonians,
Were local teams that played the passing game,
A long way from the Old Etonians.
Athletic roots in Scotland’s ancient games
These football clubs were born with thistle names
In Queensland, Scots could not be long restrained,
They copied Glasgow’s Cup to pack the joint,
From coalfields west of Brisbane fans entrained
For Pineapple Grounds at Kangaroo Point.
Fields ringed by spotted gums and wattle blooms
Where England-Scotland games were played so well,
For foes, now friends, that gather in their rooms
A fiddler plays, a piper raises hell.
One Scotch Professor never left this shore
A Queen’s Park spider born to weave and run,
In Eighty-two, First Hampden’s mighty roar!
It finished: Scotland five to England’s one.
He rests beneath Antipodean skies;
It’s sacred ground where Eadie Fraser lies
By Paul Nicholls
PRIMOPOETICA27 – AT THIS TIME OF THE DAY
it’s four in the morning
and warm outside
it’s an odd thing not
in a global warming impact way
although it is Scotland, it is June
and not even in a strange
Tales of the Unexpected way because
we earned our place
to be amongst the big boys
but some of us have waited a while
some of you’ve never been here before
I don’t want to admit the obvious
sorry, we ain’t going to win it
but at this time of the day
it doesn’t matter, so you
check over your missing Panini’s
trying to shuffle the bank account
so your other half doesn’t find out
the hundreds of pounds invested
in finding David Marshall
sitting in your jammies
sipping on cold coffee
this is a moment in time
when everything you hoped for
at the opening of one small packet
passion, absurdity, money spent
not giving a flying foo foo
it’s all there
from up in the Co-op
next to the scratch-cards
in the queue with the school weans
a sausage roll, a lucky dip for Tuesday’s Euro
and ten Panini packets – for the grandson
the one that’s not due
until September. The shop lass kens
but I don’t care, David
Marshall doesn’t care and
neither will my grandson unless
we win the Euros and he’s named
after the starting eleven, as I sit
in my jammies
at this time of the day
David Marshall in my hand
it is pure crazy mental
this pursuit of the inevitable
and aye, she’ll find oot
By Jim Mackintosh
PRIMOPOETICA26 – Odds On For The Win
Scanning the statistics
in the latest twitter poll
France’s chances are most favourable
Followed by Belgium, Spain – no surprises there
down, a wee bit mair
there’s Scotland 0.1% for the win
Hang on, 0.1%?
For the win?
So… You’re telling me there’s a chance!
by Julie McNeill
PRIMOPOETICA25 – HOpe
It’s always the hope that kills you
the expectation, the ‘what ifs?’
the endless machinations
of margins and statistics
and ‘aye but remember when’s’
There’s nothing rational
about this perpetual cycle
of belief and despair
we willingly, and eagerly
place ourselves on.
We suspend all rational thought
indulge in pure fantasy
raise our team above the prize
and go forward wide eyed
With that damned hope in our hearts, again.
By Julie McNeill
PRIMOPOETICA24 – who is listening
Who is it now singing of Bannockburn at the moon
and is it the son of the piper knee deep in the pool
where we met under Nelson’s single armed disapproval.
Catch the tear off your cheek, taste the salt of memory.
Remember when we marched: all our mismatched kit
of 70’s haute de high street – days afore Army standards.
Describe the colour of the streets where shoppers gawped
and the polis smiled under the weight of bewilderment
prepared for battle, embraced by passionate daftness.
Taste the hot acidic tang of foreign beer on willing lips.
And the touts in shorts mingled with battalions, flogging
dead horses and nylon flagged lions on bamboo canes
tidal waved for miles and miles until two towers towered.
Send me your tears, so bitter-sweet like the beer. Dip
your toe in the pool for me. Say hello to Horatio. Remind
him of the time I played the pipes and he tapped the beat.
Wish I was there. Full of stories with no-one to tell except
you. Are all the dead such romantics? Who is listening?
by Jim Mackintosh
#PrimoPoetica1 – Euro2020
Manuel Neuer’s annoying his neighbours.
He keeps having to get them to throw back his ball.
Toni Kroos is so cross that the Euros are off that
he’s punched a hole through his living room wall.
David de Gea has dropped his tortilla
on the decking in his backyard.
He’s refusing to take off his goalie gloves during quarantine
And it’s made holding his cutlery quite hard.
Gareth Bale’s dreaming of golfing outside.
All he does now is eat, sulk and sleep.
Isco invited him to a virtual disco,
but he told him he’d rather just stick on Leonard Cohen and weep.
Kylian Mbappé’s feeling a little bit crappy.
He’s in his slippers making a lunchtime snack.
He gets out a baguette and some low-fat hummus,
Then orders a pizza and puts the other stuff back.
Harry Kane’s sofa is his station for self-isolation.
He spends 24 hours a day alone.
He mostly stares at the ceiling hoping his hamstring is healing,
And humming Football’s Coming Home.
Eden Hazard is re-watching Die Hard
18th time this week; but he’s having a hoot!
Besides, he doesn’t have to worry about his food supplies,
The garden of Eden has plenty of fruit.
Andy Robertson’s in a castle made from cans of Irn Bru.
He’s playing a game of chess against a garden gnome.
He watches on as the gnome puts him into checkmate,
Then goes back to InPrivate browser on his phone.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s naked and staring in the mirror.
It’s all he’s done since he entered quarantine.
He takes a seat in the pose of The Thinker,
And has a daydream about what could’ve been.
By Stuart Kenny
#Primopoetica2 – El partido del portero
Los chicos de Klopp pasaron el balón,
pasaron, pasaron, pasaron
y los de Diego defendieron;
los de Klopp dispararon
dispararon el balón
pero ¡no pasaran!
Los delanteros de Liverpool no pasaron
porque Oblak bloqueó, bloqueó,
bloqueó, bloqueó, bloqueó,
porque Oblak bloqueó el paso.
Otra de Oblak y otra y otra
¡Qué parada! ¡Qué paradón!
¡Es que ya no quedan palabras!
Solo soy poeta de la página,
eres poeta de la portería;
solo soy este poema,
eres todo el poemario.
By David Bleiman
‘Based on the Goalkeeper’s match of Liverpool v Atlético Madrid, 11 March 2020, where Oblak blocked one Liverpool strike after another.
#Primopoetica3 – Hunt
Wet waxed your jacket
Lightning strike stood tight
Prayer hands. Mine pocketed
Scarf Arab Strapped round frost bit face.
It’s fitbaw in a tin can these days.
My lungs escaped me
Tear gas breathed. Steam rising
From a tray of chips ahead.
I would plough my fingers just to taste that heat.
Full time we find our feet. Pound streets
Feels beat but we are warriors
One goal up huddled in the pub
Mandolin choir rising
The mob throbs wae Calton songs
Windows steamin’ dreams of 67.
This is the game, my friend
Not a sport but a life spent.
We hunt every Sunday
Lay out our dead on the Monday commute.
By Victoria McNulty
#Primopoetica4 – And Along With The Rest They Cancelled Football
Players become greater in the mind
the longer it is since they played.
George Best, he of the double-jointed ankles,
wove patterns between players so intricate
they might have been done with a needle and thread.
But he didn’t forget the goalposts.
That’s where the ball nestled,
home again, hence all the shouting.
With all the effort it took to put it there.
why take it out and start over again?
Because it’s football, the game of the masses,
which also becomes greater
the longer it is since it played.
by James Andrew
PrimoPoetica5 – Routine
My nephew’s wish is for Man United face-paint,
a line across his cheeks, and down his nose.
There is comfort in the known,
like the reassurance of football gloves
waiting at the back door.
Every morning the blackbird watches
as he practices keepy-uppies before standing in goal,
imagining to the best of his capacity
Lionel Messi taking a shot.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær cheers
as my nephew draws the ball safely to his chest,
as if it were a world he was holding.
He has done this thousands of times,
but today is the only one that counts.
By Jessica Wortley
Primopoetica6 – The Whistle
the ‘only for outdoors’ ball thuds,
smacking off the freshly painted walls
a fifa-induced din and despair
and a floor strewn with match attax collectibles
The small boy laps the garden, arms aloft
executing his first cruyff turn
round the washing pole
Dad teaches him Archie Gemmill’s ’78 for PE
Strips pulled over jammies
navigating mops of hair
socks, long forgotten
get your daily dose of air
The referee blew time
And the world held its breath
On the sidelines nothing really stopped
One man helps another up
The woman leaves her kids to sit
And does her bit, helps him find his breath
Men and women venture out
Donning masks and gloves in love
To get supplies and try to think
of the collective
Rainbows appear everywhere
in chalk, in paint, in packages
on doorsteps left with care
in place of hugs and being there.
The young girl lays out cones around the kitchen
and balls up socks to play
The boy laughs on zoom at pictures
of his teammates as new babes
The ball rolls on from home to home
across the globe. It sprinkles hope
as we find new ways to be together
while we hold our breath and wait.
by Julie McNeill
Primopoetica7 – The Prospective bobby carlos
The Prospective Bobby Carlos
Morning’s dripped through night’s seal
at the edges,
busting the vacuum of the horizon
so a grey breath of day
fogs between the panes
of then and now.
The dawn’s no big wow,
for this city
growling at the body clocks
that had the local gull flocks
all a-tizzy long before light
was even busy.
Sunrise is still to pass
the first high-rise
and we’ve a park to explore
so near our front door
you think it’s your garden, though
this one’s full of joggers
in their dragonfly colours
weaving past and wheezing
out the ghosts
of fatter selves
into the patient morning mist.
Swings and chutes are padlocked
shut so it’s off-road for you
through bushes and briar,
past grass I declare blackened
and not the illicit pyres
of secret drinkers, since
where’s the magic there?
Then it happens; bursting
from another bear-hunt
onto the old bowling green
we’ve seen a ball. Sunken,
frost-skinned and bound for the bin
it’s no Mitre, but it might fly in
as I explain how it’s 1997
and this pock-marked pitch is Le Gerland
I’ve already taken the first stride
can see the bend past Barthez
after I’ve hit it as hard as
ancient trainers will allow,
#6 already running to a roaring crowd, when
you run away
from dad’s moment of glory
preferring to pursue a wren
you’ll catch no better than
I’d (maybe) catch my kick
but these days you’re quick,
rapid round the burnt wick
of an old tree stilled
by a lightning bolt’s bright idea
dreamed years before you were here
and it’s suddenly clear
that these days
I’m really Dunga,
tracking the runners out of shot
making sure we’ll no get caught
on the counter, forgetting
of a (maybe) doomed blooter
by leaving it to somebody
younger, as all good captains must.
Another bear-hunt is swiftly underway
and with the ball’s sunken forehead
a memory you say
you don’t like the samba-sway
I’ve given Michael Rosen’s words
but we sing it together anyway.
By Ross McWhinnie
PRIMOPOETICA8 – Paris June 10 1998
The table, wooden, laden with crisps and sandwiches,
Brought in despite its heft from kitchen to living room
To watch TV, to watch the world watch the Tartan Army
I never watched football before but I run home from the school bus,
The nation expects
(well not really, it was Brazil)
Yellow like the summer day, blue like the summer sky
In Paris proud we played the best,
Four time winners versus group stage sinners
They scored of course, we expected that,
Gasps released as roles realised
And order of the world forms
Kevin Gallacher who I knew from a small book that sits still on my shelf,
Who I know scored to get us here,
Scored the goals that brought Scotland to France, to the world
Brought the world to my living room
Brought the sandwiches and crisps and table from the kitchen
He ran and fell, fell up to heaven
Collins steps up…
Is this what it feels like? Football?
I ask my dad,
He smiles the smile I now know was etched by 78 and the rest
He smiles, I watch on
We hold and press, they hold and press,
The world watches as we hold our breath
Then Tommy, Tommy turns it in,
I was young
I never knew that you could destroy yourself
Crisps gone, sandwiches gone, table back in the kitchen
World moves on, we go home
My dad says
You’ll get used to this
By Darren Sempie
PRIMOPOETICA9 – North of the border
Take a trip throughout the ages
To find the Scottish football roots
It was in the eighteen-sixties
That they first put on the boots
Queen’s Park are, well the oldest
Up in Scotland that we know
And since eighteen sixty-seven
Scottish football was to grow
A reference to “fute-ball”
Goes back to eighteen-forty-two
When King James I outlawed it
Oh, what were the folk to do
There are clubs throughout the country
From the mighty to the small
Full of passion and frustration
For supporters of them all
Be it crowds that number thousands
Perhaps it’s gatherings of just few
The football is a part of them
And pride will run right through
They call them football crazy
And for so many footballs first
Well of course along with football
Comes a sort of football thirst
Now many famous Scotsman
Have made the world’s elite
With skill determination
And some fancy football feet
Scotland’s pride at the world cup
Remember Ally’s Army in 78
Sadly, they were out of luck
And again, they had to wait
But patience is a virtue
And the game it will prevail
For Scotland a proud nation
The football magic we all hail.
By Mike Conlon
PRIMOPOETICA10- Various Stadium Names
It doesn’t matter who you support, as
-long as they’re your local
The Tay-rail bridge is the view out my window
Hibernian’s my team.
See if a could go, but, see if a was allowed,
Tannadice would do.
My Dad supports the Killie but I grew up in Porty
Would you travel 60 miles every week to watch that lot?
Support your local team, always. Or at least
Make sure you watch them.
It’s been 18 weeks since we were last allowed
Past the gates of
Make sure they’re never empty again
By Hugh James Brown
PRIMOPOETICA11 – Football Punditry
What he lacks in terms of pure class
he makes up for in terms of pace.
He is guaranteed to put in a shift.
You’ll never see him in a flat back four,
he’d rather be taking the game by
the scruff of the neck and scoring
as many stone-wall penalties as he can.
But it’s pace he has in abundance and he
has that in his locker. This is what
he brings to the table when he takes
it out of his locker. There is nothing
sweeter – apart from his sweet left foot –
when he takes his pace out of his locker.
To see him on his bike down that wing
finding the gaps and the spaces and then
moving inside and pulling the trigger
really is a thing of great beauty.
Once when he was cynically fouled
it all kicked off and he just lost it so he did.
More often than not it was mere hand-bags
but he takes responsibility, shows the belief
that gets him through the match until
it is game over. It really is – unbelievable!
By Jim Aitken
PRIMOPOETICA12 – Children of albion
In a game
to defend or
that is the
to engage every
to goal, goal
left and inside
the ball strikes
In a game
you play for
the ball from
tackle the issue
midfield maestro’s exemplary
pitch one notch.
turnstiles you live
By Neil Leadbetter
PRIMOPOETICA13 – Roy of the rovers
George Best to Jimmy Johnstone
A flick of the ball from Roy of the Rovers
Collecting it without breaking my stride
Weaving past imaginary opponents
Eagle eye the top corner of the net
My deadly right foot thunderbolt net bulging
Taking the rapture of the crowd in my stride.
George, Jimmy and Roy beaming the beam
Of the daily last minute goal.
We had done it again.
Dreaming was real.
The comic script inside my head
Inked and drawn in my back garden.
The clothes poles a tough defence.
The garage wall the one two
That fooled them every time.
The unstoppable blast against the top corner
Of the garden fence.
It was a dream I woke from
Not realising then
That I was building another dream
Within a dream.
Images stored with feeling
For this poem.
by Tom Murray
PRIMOPOETICA14 – The Hallowed tournament
Leaves slap against one another,
Neglected grass billows gently,
Empty seats creak,
Wind is funnelled through stairwells and turnstiles,
A distant car trundles by,
The white lines fade.
There’s a violent cacophony of silence,
As the summer trudges on,
Without that hallowed tournament.
by Sam McCartney
PRIMOPOETICA15 – Stand free
Here, being red is unique
in crowds of blue and green
Often discarded or hidden away
but sometimes magnificent
when it really matters
I can taste it now
between crusty steak
bratwurst mitt pretzels
with lashings of durken
and oodles of pride
My senses fill at the thought of you
on cold winters nights
Sweaty class oozes over fields
as we’re red, your dead; we’re dancing on your head
we’re Aberdeen; where it counts
to have two silver stars over your badge
Being red is what I live by
and I will feel the rush of it
wherever I go; see the seagulls swooping
smell the ozone new and hear
the loons who never give up hope
standing free wherever they may be
by Lindsay Craik
PRIMOPOETICA16 – bawless
We aw miss the fitbaw
Thare’s na a gem like at
What can equal the escapism,
Gat us aw kittelt up,
Mak us sae blythe an sair,
As follaein OOR team?
We aw miss the weather
At hame or awa;
Daudin shours, snaw an houlin o wind
Frozen, bilin, soakin
Aw in the space o ninety meenits
We aw miss the camaraderie
Whit a drooth the fitbaw gies ye
Few pints afore, bit o banter
Few mair efter, louder banter
At’s a social thingie
We aw miss the crack
We aw speak a hunert languages at the fitbaw
Onywhaur in the waurld, juist say ‘Messi’ or ‘Ronaldo’
The fowk’ll gat it an nod, thumbs up, eh!
If thay point at ye, whaur ye frae? Say, ‘Dalglish’
Thay’ll probably say ‘Liverpool’ but dinna fash yersel
by Peter Findlay
PRIMOPOETICA17 – Real good
Cross fae the left
Zinedine Zidane steadies himsel
An’ Zizou! Baw’s in the net!
Fifty thoosan folk leapin fae seats,
Fists punchin the soggy Glesca err,
Aw roarin in ther ain tongues,
Giein it, “Ole!”, “Achtung!” an “Gaun yersel son!”
But nae tummlin his wulkies
Nae haunstauns ower the grass,
Jist the great man grinnin fit tae split
His baldy heid,
An the hale place gaun mental!
by Iain Mills
PRIMOPOETICA18 – Hampden the musical
Was summer of ’78
jingoistic Scots’ pride
on our way to Argentina
though England hadn’t qualified.
Refrained it on street corners
echoed along tenements
belted out in bars on
our way across to Hampden.
Day was right hot
stripped down to our wastes
dust clouded up from terracing
for a lump in my throat
as we sang “Ally’s Army”
not in unison or key
just first verse and chorus
for we didn’t know the rest.
Bawled all through the match
until the English scored
to take wind out of our sails
and wind out of our lungs.
But with great resolve
we started up again
waved our tartan with pride
for our journey had begun.
by Alun Robert
PRIMOPOETICA19 – Yes kids, you can boogie…
It’s extra time, we’ve blown it
I’m sending the wee yin to bed
she doesn’t need the disappointment
this year’s filled her head
with quite enough dread.
Somehow, we hang on
the thirty minutes done
as Griff walks up to the spot
the door creaks open
the bairn appears, a wee
a bed-ruffled mascot
drawn down the stairs
by magnitude and snacks
and potential jubilation.
One by one the hope, it grows
we are all David Marshall’s glove
and Kenny McLean’s foot
we are the pause
to wait for the thumbs up
then we are Scotland,
in the European championship.
We are couches used as trampolines
Weans thrown in the air
We are bedtimes long forgotten
We are Ryan Christie’s tears
We are there.
by Julie McNeill
PRIMOPOETICA20 – saved
David Marshall’s left hand turns off the alarm clock
looks out a neon pink goalkeeping top puts on the
kettle and makes a cappuccino the way the barista with the
bleached blonde hair down the road does it – with the
fancy oat milk and the complicated silver machine.
David Marshall’s left hand leaves the coffee on your
bedside table along with a cream cheese bagel and tucks
the duvet just beneath your chin so you’re proper cosy,
then lightly squeezes your hand and waves goodbye.
David Marshall’s left hand opens the door and quietly
locks it again from the other side. You miss David Marshall’s
left hand but you know it’s got work to do and it comforts you
that it’ll be back and frankly that it’s out there at all.
David Marshall’s left hand turns on the car engine and
taps the steering wheel rhythmically to Baccara.
The music isn’t really David Marshall’s
cup of tea but he knows it’d mean a lot to the lads in
the locker room if he could learn the words.
David Marshall’s left hand turns the engine off floats
into a nearby Tesco picks up a bag of oranges and greets
its teammates. David Marshall’s left hand puts on a
goalkeeping glove pats Andy Robertson on the back
and fist bumps Declan Gallagher going down the tunnel.
David Marshall’s left hand waits idly by his side for 45
minutes, occasionally catching or throwing a ball. David
Marshall’s left hand directs, prevents and conducts. David
Marshall’s left hand almost saves one penalty. David
Marshall’s left hand does save another penalty.
David Marshall’s left hand sends Scotland to Euro 2020.
By Stuart Kenny
PRIMOPOETICA21 – The Green Deck
How nice it is
Waiting for you,
Playing under floodlights
While rain sweeps in.
As if the astroturf were not
A flat rectangle of green
But the deck
Of a whaling ship.
And the shouts and cries
Breaching the wind
And snare drum rain
Those of sailors.
The car’s safe haven rocks,
Somewhere out of sight
Rope tings on flag pole.
Lines form and break,
There’s a rush for ball and corner flag.
You’ll be soaked to the skin.
And while I wait
And the rain sweeps in,
I pray for sailors
And the souls at sea
I look for you in the pool of light
And I want you to know
I am here, always,
Waiting for you.
by Gabrielle Barnby
The Green Deck was inspired by watching football training as a storm broke over a floodlit session in Orkney. How snug and safe I felt in my car. How I wished to become a shelter for the boys.
PRIMOPOETICA22 – Testimonial
He turns his back on the team, at every home game, but he’ll never stop following them; it’s in his blood. Besides, he’s already seen enough to last a lifetime.
A seasoned ticket spine bent and almost bare, corners frayed from rough back and forth between the turnstiles, bearing witness to derby day up‘s and down’s, promotion pushes and relegation white-knuckle rides; dream-like European exploits that now only live on within grainy VHS vistas, imprisoned inside redundant worlds that gather dust, time eating them away like Alzheimer’s.
The old man stares diligently ahead, his attention swimming upstream against the current of the crowd. The compulsion to look back has long left him, settling instead to watch the action unfold across the faces of a thousand strangers. Across this hulking, tribal monster pulsing before him; constructed from a multitude of lifestyles and experiences, attitudes and appearances; and yet, for ninety minutes (plus injury), are woven together, existing as one.
Except one, who still sits still as a statue, the game behind him out of sight; his hi-viz jacketed backed at it, watching the watchers watch the clock, watching the ref holding hope to his lips and at the back of his throat. Chants fall and rise like deep slumbering sighs; nerves and back-lines holding fast to the half. Relief finally exhales in a slow and steady flow, synchronised to the sound of the refs whistle blow.
The crowd thins out like a famine to feast on cups of burning hot Bovril, and coat their chins in greasy films that erupt from the guts of cartoon pies. As they rise, the mouths of flip-down plastic seats snap shut; leaving a patchwork of punters in play as we Guess Who is at the game: Have they got on a hat? Is there hair on their face? Do they wear glasses, and if so can the referee have them? Click… click, click, click…
Meanwhile, flat-capped clichés invade the pitch to stick the hallowed turf with trusty prongs, tsking as they stamp with uneven gaits, righting the damage from those two-footed wrongs. Dints and dents now denied, the tannoy blares out its muffled messages like a Charley Brown teacher; half-time scores draw partisan roars as flags unfurl and chants are hurled and all along the whole while the old man stays the same, unchanged; perhaps watching a different game.
He might be fluorescent to the eye, but inside his light is fading.
He didn’t always face this way. He used to sit in that same stand and stand before they sat; and when other parts of his life stayed closed, it was Saturday afternoons that he chose to share when forming bonds with his first and only born. A language they could both speak, with ease through native tongues, fully fluent in saying without saying as they’d thaw frozen limbs over heated debates on the long journeys home.
The years pass by, racking up like Weinstein criminal charges. Their shared stone step spot swapped to satisfy both safety needs and stiffening knees of a future they never saw coming, unaware that time had been the real opponent, the archest of rivals; the bogiest team that always left the park with all three points in its pocket.
And when the old man lets himself remember, when he allows himself to look back, every game stings like a last minute cup final defeat; his loss so bitter it could twist lips off a lemon. No joy to be found on the pitch, no peace at the prospect of passing through those gates for good. Trapped, unable to watch or walk away as the can’t live with or without conundrum counts him down to the last fixture of his season; a life time of devotion, no testimonial in sight.
So its eyes back front as floodlight bulbs ignite, sending fleet-footed shadows dancing across the old man’s back for another forty five. Forever hunched, this guardian of granite solemnly surveys the sea of souls before him like a warning; glaring from the limbotic side line of life where he sits stubbornly between two worlds. Eyes cast over those hopeful faces before him, often mistaking strangers for sons.
Sometimes he wonders what they see when they look back; the fluorescent façade of duty he dons no doubt jump-starting assumptions, pigeon-holing him neatly away from any further thought. Unaware of the distance he’s travelled just to end up only a few yards away.
But in amongst the throngs, perhaps there might be one, eyes not so glued to the action played out behind this old man; wondering…
Why he turns his back on the team, at every home game?
Perhaps he’s already seen enough to last a lifetime.
By Gavin J Inn