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  • Mike Gahagan

A Soccer Poem for December

The Rhyme of the Ancient Manager

( with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge )

There was an ancient manager

And he stoppeth one of three

“By thy long grey beard and glittering eye

Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”

He holds them with his skinny hand

I had a team quoth he

“Push off you old deluded loon”

Let us pass and set us free

The changing room doors are open wide

My place was there he sighs

The pitch was lined, the nets were up

I was ready for the prize

The supporter sat upon a stone

He cannot choose but hear

Thus spoke that very ancient man

Of all things he held dear]

I had the very best of them

The soundest in the league

I triumphed every season long

I knew not failure nor fatigue

“The season came to end at last

The final game that year

The zenith of the season long

Our supporters came to cheer.

We won the league, we beat the lot

We had no foe to fear

The cup final our last prize to win

The objective plain and clear.

The sky was blue, the grass was green

Around us spring was breaking

We had no qualms about the game

It was ours, ready for the taking.

We started well in all respects

We scored an early goal

But then we felt we had it won

And the season took its toll.

Our full back was a stupid lad

He liked to sneer and scoff

He tried it on the referee

Who sent the poor lad off.

The supporter stood as if to leave

“No! Hear my tale I beg

Our striker missed an open goal

Then fell and broke his leg.

I had no choice, I had to act

And bring the substitute on

He attacked his opponent with his fists

So now he too was gone.

I could not then believe my eyes

I knew misery and despair

When our midfielder in a petty rage

Kicked his marker in the air

Now we were eight and sad to say

We could not save our plight

We lost our shape and so our dream

Of silver died that night

The manager, whose eye is bright

The lost prize still to yearn

Is gone now and the supporter

Rose, and set off in his turn

He went like one that hath been stunned

To hear the sorrow borne

A sadder and a wiser man

He rose the morrow morn.

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