‘Alfreton Town 0, Brackley Town 1’: a poem by Rory Waterman


    Alfreton Town 0, Brackley Town 1 (89’)


for Lloyd Pettiford and Adam Tocock


The pitch is white where the sun’s not been seen
on its hill-cresting flight. The tea queue is long
and shrouded in breath, as men in fat coats
grunt at each other, though the game’s going on –
but I’m on the terrace, with 64 others,
where a bloke in a tank-top and built like a tank
turns to the dug-outs and breaks the near-silence:
‘Cheynge it up, Billeh boy – we’re fukkin’ wank!’
Then he faces the game again, squinting upfield
as one of their wingers slaps a long cross
out for a throw-in. ‘C’mon lads!’ he bellows,
rub-rubbing his hands.
                                               So, this loss is his loss,
and also his triumph. He boos at the whistle,
says ‘See yer’ to others, and runs for a piss,
and doesn’t drive home, cross a ground off his list,
and know he was no-one. No. He lives for this.


Rory Waterman

About Rory Waterman

Rory Waterman's collections are 'Tonight the Summer's Over' (Carcanet, 2013; a PBS Recommendation, shortlisted for a Heaney Award), and 'Sarajevo Roses' (Carcanet, 2017; shortlisted for the 2019 Ledbury Forte Prize). His third, 'Sweet Nothings', was published by Carcanet in May 2020. His other books include 'Poets of the Second World War' (Northcote House, 2016). He is Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature at Nottingham Trent University, writes criticism for several publications, and co-edits the pamphlet press New Walk Editions.