Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘Football in the marshes’: a poem by Nikos Keim

Football in the marshes

Bright green from the black earth
As the teams in their primary colours
Move like tides across the luscious turf
Cries sharpen on the cold air
And I pass, wishing each of them well
Hoping the striker nods, judicious as Solomon,
The midfielders organise and dissect
And run themselves ragged
The goalies plug the open maw of the net
Like a snarl of hair and soap scum
Down past the U-bend
And all share a drink as the sun slips
Over the lip of the earth,
A fish returning to water.
There’s an eternal shush
As the wind sifts the reeds,
Bare poplars like the ends
Of besom brooms
Scarify the twilight,
The darkness is marish
And the hawthorn stands
Stripped bare inside
Its ruined parapet of bramble.

Over near the stables,
The ice rink is coming down
And I think back, a little unsettled,
To a first date on which we slid
Gingerly across the ice until
An old woman fell and split her head.
A red aureole formed around her
While the teens on duty soft-footed it about,
Watching out for the blood as it spread,
Scared to move her, as we continued to circle.