The Hampden Collection’s Poet-In-Chief, Jim Mackintosh, had a dream recently. With the postponement of the Euro2020 until next year, he dreamt we could host football poetry from all over Europe, in any language, over the vacuum in this year’s footballing calendar. This would be our ‘poésie sans frontières’.
It’s not our intention to underplay the tragedy, which has engulfed so many of our friends and neighbours across Europe, however we want to provide an opportunity to strengthen our historic bonds through our shared passion for football and the written word.
This poetry will remind us of the good times and express the sadness of where we are now, cherishing why we do what we do on a football field or in the stands watching the beautiful game. Regardless of your country of origin, the language of football will prevail and therefore we will accept poems in any language. Indeed we encourage it.
After a number of kick-arounds on what we would call this venture, we came up with ‘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, at a time when we are faced with its greatest shutdown of all time.
So the ultimate question. Do you believe you have a football themed poem, which will strike a chord with our Europoean family of countries during this difficult period of our shared history? Submit your poem here and Jim will select the best ones to be posted through the coming weeks and months.
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