The following piece first appeared in Issue Forty Four, released in February 2022.
I never planned to write a poem
about England’s greatest ever footballer
in Leicester Market
buying King Size Rizla from a head stall.
But here we are, on a hot day in June,
the anonymous drunk in stonewash denim,
cutting through the crowd with a ball at his feet,
in my mind, at least, like the goal that he scored
when he shot down the Scots
with a volley in the sun. All around the ground
you could hear his name. From a dentist’s chair
to the fabled tunnel, to a shit city pub
where the men measure time by the emptied pint.
Paul, mate. Paul. Can I get you a taxi or something?
The boy who cried in Turin. The knockabout clown
with a gift from God, washed in booze
and lost. I’m grand, man. Grand.
He patted my back and grabbed my arm,
brushing off a tackle. I left him in the bar
with a pocketful of cash, chucking notes at the staff
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