I make absolutely no apologies whatsoever for the partisan nature of this poem. I regularly write poems and blogs, but only occasionally blog about my football team, Newcastle United. This week, I witnessed a performance and a moment that captured a great deal of what I love about my club. So what better way to remember it than with a poem?
Kieran Trippier, over the wall. Once the outrage of the indiscretion has cleared, a buzz of expectation echoes round, filling the stadium like the hum of a million black and white bees. Twenty five yards further down the field, a short armed keeper toils, crouching low, shuffling this way and that, pointing, shouting, the very definition of futility, as he attempts to arm himself against the inevitable. A wall of bewildered men, where even a wall like those of Berlin or China would fail. The referee directs traffic, keen eyed as grown men push and shove to pinch an inch wherever they can. And then, as if in a parallel universe, three magpies stand; Shelvey, Targett, Trippier, surveying all before, debating height, angles and which one of them will fire the missile. A hush descends and is then punctured by a whistle, Shelvey ambles away, exiting stage left, Targett twitches, as if to strike, but Trippier strides forth, striking the ball, up and over the wall, a curling exocet that pierces the air before whistling, untouched into the net, beyond the despairing hands of the short armed man in green. Continuing his run, Trippier arrows for the corner of the stadium, leaving team-mates in his wake, unadulterated joy and passion etched across his face, eyes wild, already hooked on this feeling as he slides over the touchline, fist punching the excited air now filled by the gutteral screams of every man, woman and child who ride this ride, dream this dream, support this team.
I exiled myself from the club years ago now. I never stopped supporting them, but the love that I’d grown up with had changed, thanks to our new owner of that time. Over the years, Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United sucked the love from me until it was just a shell of what it had once been. But, as you might well know, Newcastle United is an addiction so I could never completely let go.
Last October, when the club was bought by our new owners, I took a step back. Yes, I was delighted, excited, overwhelmed, like we all were. But it’s the hope that kills you, so I didn’t dare hope too much. The last few months have changed that. My love has been re-ignited, a bit like the club. As we’ve heard loads of times before, we’ve got our club back.
Tuesday night’s game against Everton felt special. The noise, the atmosphere, the way the team represented the club and the fans. Even when we went behind, it didn’t feel that it would matter. We’d be OK.
Kieran Trippier’s free kick felt iconic. It still does. It feels like the spark that will iginite a fire that might just roll out of control. And in terms that aren’t quite so eloquent or intelligent, it was bloody brilliant. So brilliant that I had to write about it. I hope my poem does the moment justice.