The Hampden Collection’s Poet-In-Chief, Jim Mackintosh, had another dream recently. How about another poetry collection celebrating the journey of the Scotland Team? Safe in the knowledge the #SWNTPoetsSociety covered our brilliant Women’s squad, who have qualified for major tournaments in both 2017 and 2019, there was a glaring gap and a gender balance needing corrected after 22 years of isolation.
So where to begin? Well let’s start by doing it in true Scottish tradition by inviting the whole of Europe to join in. The Tartan Army are famed for their ability to include everyone in their passion, just like the modern passing game of football Scotland invented. Then when Scotland’s Men’s Team qualify, why not continue our aims and up the ante?
We want to show off the ‘unknown’ and ‘known’ bards of our country to the rest of Europe, demonstrating the cultural heritage and passion for football, as we walk the road to Euro2021.
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 Europe.
So the ultimate question? Do you believe you have a football themed poem, which will strike a chord within the European family of countries?
Submit your poem here, English, Scots or Gaelic, or maybe you want to do it in another language? We really want to stir Europe and the World with our mission.
Jim will select the best ones to be posted through the coming weeks and months, as we head to another summer of football.
Scotland made it. The #TartanBoogie / #Ceilidh has begun.
We look forward to reading and publishing the best submissions! See the published submissions below.
Hampden Collection Team
#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 Innes