Goalkeeper with a Cigarette

That’s him in the green, green cotton jersey,
prince of the clean sheets — some upright insect
boxed between the sticks, the horizontal
and the pitch, stood with something up his sleeve,
armed with a pouch of tobacco and skins
to roll his own, or else a silver tin
containing eight or nine already rolled.
That’s him with one behind his ear, between
his lips, or one tucked out of sight and lit –
a stamen cupped in the bud of his fist.
That’s him sat down, not like those other clowns,
performing acrobatics on the bar, or press-ups
in the box, or running on the spot,
togged out in turtleneck pyjama-suits
with hands as stunted as a bunch of thumbs,
hands that are bandaged or swaddled with gloves,
laughable, frying-pan, sausage-man gloves.
Not my man, though, that’s not what my man does;
a man who stubs his reefers on the post
and kicks his heels in the stud-marks and butts,
lighting the next from the last, in one breath
making the save of the year with his legs,
taking back a deep drag on the goal-line
in the next; on the one hand throwing out
or snaffling the ball from a high corner,
flicking off loose ash with the other. Or
in the freezing cold with both teams snorting
like flogged horses, with captains and coaches
effing and jeffing at backs and forwards,
talking steam, screaming exhausting orders,
that’s not breath coming from my bloke, it’s smoke.
Not him either goading the terraces,
baring his arse to the visitors’ end
and dodging the sharpened ten-pence pieces,
playing up, picking a fight, but that’s him
cadging a light from the ambulance men,
loosing off smoke rings, zeros or halos
that drift off, passively, over the goals
into nobody’s face, up nobody’s nose.
He is what he is, does whatever suits him,
because he has no highfalutin song
to sing, no neat message for the nation
on the theme of genius or dedication;
in his passport, under ‘occupation’,
no one forced the man to print the word
‘custodian’, and in The Faber Book
of Handy Hints his five-line entry reads:
‘You young pretenders, keepers of the nought,
the nish, defenders of the sweet fuck-all,
think bigger than your pockets, profiles, health;
better by half to take a sideways view,
take a tip from me and deface yourselves.’
Simon Armitage


Leave a Reply

  • Latest

    As you can imagine - writing and recording music is a heavenly way to spend a life. Fucking about with social media and websites is about as grim as it gets.....so I apologise that this website is infrequently updated and looks pretty basic!

    We've spent the last year recording our new album. First off we went to Sawmills Studios in Cornwall on the River Fowey - that was pretty magical - then back to Den Haag for all the overdubbing and mixing. We also did a few days at Exalto in Haarlem. So we have a laptop full of new exciting tunes - can't wait to release them into the sea of disdain that is the modern electronic universe.

    Still on a positive note - we've finished the record. Now we are doing all that other crap like sleeves and videos so that's got you up to date........Cheers, Dylan