Poetry: From the Bounce by Michael Viljoen

From that first cherry plucked when Adam was small

To when suburban clan rivalries divided us all

Words mêlée and fight as our poets recite

The deeds and the lore of football

Though others assume this most sacred name

As rugby, and gridiron, even soccer may claim

Of feats gazed upon in sport’s pantheon

From the pack large emerges one game

The Irish brought hurling from their isle green and lush

To England for their invention of cricket we owe much

But once locals displayed their fleet-footed games

God allowed royal blood lines to touch

As convicts we worked bound by chains cold and cruel

Now we drink to our freedom, our cup ever full

A continent, a nation; no borders, no hesitation

Our game will have no off-side rule

We’ll engage on a generous wide open plain

Echoes of Australia’s ample, unfilled terrain

Though oblong yet pure, this shapes to ensure

In the end the ball bounces your way

Now heroes seek glory in mud thick or thin

Their memory of Anzac they dare not rescind

Lay team motif first, that unquenchable thirst

To move the ball swift as the wind

A man has no wings, cannot fly, ‘twas once said

But to know where that dictum is turned on its head

Where gravity’s defied mere men reach to the sky

Reclaiming paths angels once tread

Speed, skill, endurance, strength, camaraderie

Courage, that’s football, is what we’ve come to see

As in the beginning

As when the fat lady’s singing

So shall it always be

•     •      •       •

Michael Viljoen, 2009

About Michael Viljoen

Michael was born in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, the same as Siya Kolisi, the successful World Cup winning Springbok captain, but was raised in Melbourne with a love for Australian Rules. He has worked as a linguist in Africa with Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia, where he wrote a booklet on the history of Cameroon's Indomitable Lions, which was translated into several Cameroonian languages.

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