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Football Dreaming Poem

This poem is seasonally out of place. However, in its defence, it began during the recently completed football season in Australia. A time when football was very much in my thinking zone. I watched my football team win the coveted AFL Premiership after a drought of 37 long, and often painful years. 

Today the AFL Draft for 2017 will be conducted. A day when young footballers Australia wide wait to see if they will have their dreams realized and get to play in the national competition. So, the football connection is restored somewhat...

The words of the poem have taken time to reshape and fit into place. There have been numerous revisions.  It is a poem that owes its origins to a time and a place strongly linked to my childhood. I grew up in close proximity to the local football ground. Across the road, through the school-ground and I was there. It was a setting central to my childhood. 

Do you have strong memories that connect places and events in your life? Maybe they could form the focus for your writing. Maybe, just maybe a poem is waiting at the intersection of time, place and a particular event. Hmm...

Football Dreaming

He leaps towards the clouds above an imaginary pack of players
Flying high like all the footballing gods
Champions, achievers
A little dreamer
In his high top Jenkin football boots

He is there on so many autumn mornings
Kicking the dew from the grass
Running with the ball.
All alone on a country footy ground
Ringed by a fence 
Of white wooden pickets shining like a mouth full of pearly teeth
It’s just the magpies in nearby gum-trees for company
Feathered spectators carolling away.

All those boyhood hours gripping the Sherrin with deliberate intent
Perfecting the ball drop
Feeling its leathery skin beneath his fingers 
Torpedo and drop punt
Controlling the bounce
Peppering the goals from every possible angle
Drop, snap and hope
Step back and line up the shot on goal
His days are full of match day drama
When a single kick could win the game
Everything hangs on this moment
Nothing less than a goal will do…

Treading the hard turf before the season proper
He will soon join the March champions and the ever hopeful battlers
But only when the growing and the knowing is done

On one wing stands a lonely, slightly askew scoreboard 
Paint peeling, forlorn
Gnarly goalposts keep up the ends
An oval with a visibly imperfect slope
And a tufted grass surface

-But it’s his field for dreaming.
So he stands in the goal-square 
At the ground’s highest point
And kicks the ball with a mustering of might
Again and again
And yet again 

He launches his leather rockets
Barrelling towards the ground’s centre
This is his elusive target
He is not there

All this on his field for dreaming
Autumn mornings spent
Kicking the dew from the grass
A boy
A dream
A football
Torpedo and drop punt
And a couple of hours of kick and fetch
Kick and fetch
All alone on a country footy ground.


  1. My boys both played American football. And dreamed of playing in college and the NFL. Your poem, especially that last stanza, evokes so many memories for me. And I especially love the repetition of the phrase, "country footy ground."

    1. Thanks Carol. Despite the different sporting codes, there remains a universal dream of young boys and girls in emulating their heroes.

  2. Kick and fetch/kick and fetch
    I was there on that ground with a million Aussie boys. A brilliant poem, Alan. I'm glad it continued to brew long after that wondrous win in September.
    I was in the UAE recently and spent quite some time trying to describe AFL to new friends from the UK and Mexico. Even clips from youtube couldn't quite explain it.

    1. Thanks Sally. The writing is a joy, particularly when it's coming from a place steeped in memory. I spent six years living and working in the US, so explaining our football code was always an interesting challenge. Cricket, well that was even more of a mystery to unravel -except for the NYC taxi drivers from the subcontinent. They loved cricket conversations.

  3. In our house, it seemed every season was time for football (or soccer as we call it over here). I still fnd cleats and balls and shin guards hiding in various corners, waiting for a girl to come home to kick a ball around again, but they will most likely remain memories and dreams.

    1. There's a story there Kay. Ideas exist in things.

  4. My son played football and I enjoyed kicking the ball around with him to practice, I think I would have enjoyed the game myself. I like the steady-building movement in your poem, and your rich descriptions spread throughout your poem, "Of white wooden pickets shining like a mouth full of pearly teeth
    It’s just the magpies in nearby gum-trees for company
    Feathered spectators carolling away." Thanks!

    1. Thank you for your appreciative comments Michelle. It was a nostalgic experience to write this poem and I am sure there are many kids out there who have shared similar moments.


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