Almanac Poetry: A Boy and His Football





He trots in

head low, licking

the four fingers on each hand

his thumbs rubbing in the spit

that’s how you make the ball stick


Up on his toes, winding

past the bodies in the pocket

border collie eyes

looking at the smells

on the puff of wind


The umpy’s bounce smacks high

the crowd murmurs,

they’ve spotted him

panic rises in the box

who’s on Hird, who’s on Hird?


The schoolboy in long sleeves

doing his ordinary schoolboy things

even now, in the main arena

against the seasoned hard men

Juggling a mark

falling among tangled limbs

leaning up on his shoulder

climbing out of bed

running away into

an open goal


Listen to Gabriel, the arch angel

sitting behind you on the wing

she whispers in your ear

did you see that…

did you see that…

there’s your boy

pure innocence


James Hird was crucified

the gentle angel on the pitch

lured into a fast car

and thrown into a ditch


Watch it… on youtube

or in your memory

over and over again

James Hird

trotting down the field

in some other world

licking his fingers

trusting the Sherrin

to come to him

See the oval ball

hit a tuft

veer sideways

heed the call

of its lifelong

best friend


A boy and his football



More poetry from Almanac Poetry can be read HERE


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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Welcome to the Almanac Michael. Terrific poem, looking forward to reading many more on the site.

  2. Nicole Kelly says

    Hi Michael – a great poem. Thank you! My dad is a Bombers supporter and I have a real soft spot for Hirdy. He was amazing with the footy.

  3. Thanks Colin. Whenever I need a lift, I go on youtube and watch “James Hird – You Are a Genius”. I plan to write a few previews of the Bomber games this season. No post-mortems, just one-eyed optimistic previews. Social Media tells me its been six thousand three hundred and sixy something days since Essendon have won a final. Not so long for a die hard. It’s getting closer.

  4. Hi Nicole,
    Thanks for the compliment. It sounds like your dad is very astute and has probably made many other good choices in life.

  5. Hayden Kelly says

    Great stuff Michael . I am not big on Essendon but James Hird was a joy to watch and your poem encapsulates him beautifully .Never forget the night he kicked a great goal when Essendon needed one and ran through the goals to the boundary and high fived a Bombers supporter . It was shades of a kid kicking a big goal in the the under 14s grand final .

  6. Bill Wootton says

    No Hird fan but Looking at the smells/ on the puff of wind. Nice. Two u’s in murmurs.

  7. Thanks Michael.

    As a Crows fan I happily admit that Hird is the best footballer I’ve seen play in the flesh. And, of course, I’ve a soft spot for MacLeod and Jarman but one day at Footy Park he was remarkable and seemed to read the game with an astrophysicist’s eye.

  8. You’re welcome Mickey. We play you guys in round four at Docklands. Jarman used to get into another world as well. He simplified the whole thing. Get ball, kick goal.

  9. Thanks Bill. Murmurs looks much better when spelled correctly.

  10. @Hayden Kelly – I know what you mean. There was always something straggly about him, a school kid with his shirt-tail hanging out. The footy liked him. He seemed to get many kind bounces..

  11. Hayden Kelly says

    And the licking of the fingers was straight from the lunch time kick to kick at school manual .

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