Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

The Beautiful Game

by Helen Cherry

Millions sat transfixed,
their bodies angle poised
before a screen;
trying to shed light
on what was happening.
Mum, they’ll be alright won’t they?
Oh course they will son,
it’s only a game.
They silently watched.
Eventually many mouths opened,
screaming at those screens
They can’t move back!
Open the gates!
They might as well have been mute.
No voice was heard
where it mattered most.
A crushed mass of red and denim blue.
Faces crisscrossed with wire lines
digging deep into their cheeks.
Many mouths opened. Screaming!
But no sound escaped
from airless lungs
as precious life squeezed out.
Mum, they’ll be alright won’t they?
I don’t think they will, son.
Who’s to blame?
All went down a road they did not take.
Were they hooligans, thugs, a drunken mob maybe?
Or penned in
fighting for life, not fighting?
96 died.
Sons, fathers, brothers.
Daughters, wives, sisters.  
All lovers
of The Beautiful Game. 

Added: 30.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


Too heavy handed at times.