The Boy Next Door

I had a great footy weekend.  Cats and Crows was fast and skilful on Friday night.

On Saturday night I told the Avenging Eagle we’d have lamb shanks and watch a movie.  But the Tigers unexpectedly reprised “Field of Dreams” and I was asleep on the couch soon after the final siren and the third red.

Sunday we stopped for a steak sandwich and a beer (her prosecco) at the Oxford on the way to Subiaco.  Who would have thought I could develop a soft spot for the Blues?  I guess I’m a sucker for the “Cinderella Man”.

My Eagles were brutal.  We aren’t the most skilful side so we need to be the most ruthless.  This was the first reel of the main feature, after 7 weeks of trailers and cartoons.

But the highlight of my footy weekend was going out to the garage on Sunday night to feed Shandy the Wonder Dog and hearing the boy next door (Sebastian) kicking the footy to himself in the dark.

His father (Carlo) fled from Chile as a child with his parents in the 70’s after the Allende coup and they first settled in Carlton before moving to Perth.  They adopted the Blue Baggers along with a new homeland.  Somehow they don’t feel like Silvertails.

But hearing that sound made me 10 years old again.  Celebrating in the park after an (always) surprise West Torrens Eagles win.


The Boy Next Door

I heard the sound

Of dreams

Echo in the dark


Leather thunks

On paving stone

Playing home alone


Stinging hands


Now miracles seem normal


Could I be ten once more?

I analyse

He dreams


Losers sudden winners

He prayed them

Into form


A hundred aching teases

The only kid in school

Wearing Navy Blue


We share an ancient code

Not sentences

Just grunts


“Carn Blues”

“Nah Eags”

“Good win”


My mind strips fifty years

Gum trees

Mimic goals


Just me and Bobby Gibson

We share

A common goal


Before the final siren

When mum

Will call us home

FAlmanac banner sq


  1. Quietly outstanding Peter. Reminds me of Nina Simone: “God bless the child.”

  2. That is superb!!!

    There wouldn’t be too many blues fans in the west?

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    “He prayed them into form” You have depth young old man. Cavafy would be proud. Beautiful work PB.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Wowsa, you’ve kept that hidden PB.

  5. Nic McGay says

    Wonderful, PB. Spent many a hazy night at the Oxford (the one in Mt Hawthorn?) during my uni days before it was gentrified. Rough as guts and unpretentious – and the cheapest beer birth of the river.

  6. Nic McGay says


  7. Mark Duffett says

    Most poetry as it is currently practised leaves me cold. But this one hit me. Very well done, sir.

  8. E.regnans says


  9. Could just imagine this kid, PB. He probably felt like he could take flight. Well done.

  10. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    In my Paris youth, in the woody apartments of the Marais, we would hear everything. The cello teacher with her students upstairs, the tide of school kids filling the lycée in the next street, a toddler in the ‘cour’ kicking a ball or engrossed in imaginary play, the dubbed ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ from my grandma’s bedroom. Those close/faraway sounds were worlds of their own, spaces for internal personal reverie, especially in a place that was only half of home. You have captured it most particularly in prose and poem. Beaut’.

  11. Loved it PB.

  12. Much appreciated all.
    Writing match reports gets a bit stale after a few years. What can I say about the Eagles that I haven’t said a dozen times? What metaphor hasn’t been used before?
    In the 80’s I worked as a speechwriter/policy hack for a Rhodes Scholar. This was very intimidating for a country kid who “almost” had 2 undergraduate degrees. I devoured all his previous speeches, and for the first 6 months would cut and paste them into a different order. That was when cut and paste meant scissors and glue, not click and drop. Eventually he gave one back – after being well received by the audience – and said “write something new. I can’t go on plagiarising myself like this forever.”
    And so began my writing career. Good to try something different. Poetry captures feelings and the senses better than prose. Prose helps us think. Poetry helps us feel.
    As for Bobby Gibson. West Torrens #5; 1959 – 1972. My boyhood hero. The only reliable performer in a club full of gifted flakes. Bobby played the same even when we got beaten by 10 goals – which was most weeks. He deserves an Almanac piece in his own right. Anybody know if he is still contactable?
    Nic – a pint of Little Creatures Pale set me back $11.50 at the Oxford in Mt Hawthorn/Leederville on Sunday. I don’t think starving uni students drink there any more. Steak sandwiches are top notch though, and not too crowded with lots of screens for watching sport. Recommended.

  13. Neil Anderson says

    Prose and poetry. Thinking and feeling. Maybe that’s the glue that’s kept the ‘non-believer’ ( the Avenging-Eagle equivalent) and myself together for over forty years. Me with my dabbling in prose and play-scripts, she with her love of poetry. Until I read your poem and description of the two art-forms, I thought we were on our own here with our two ‘hobbies’. Good to see a few ‘pomes’ crop up on the Almanac at least.
    My wife has recently started a PhD which involves the work of Dorathea McKellar of ‘loving a sunburnt country’ fame so you can’t get more Aussie than that.
    When I can tear her away from her own keyboard, I will show her your poem. I’ll just have to tell her it’s got nothing to do with football.

  14. Peter Warrington says

    PB any relation to Simon B?

  15. John Butler says

    You old softy PB.

    And good on you Sebastian. Hang in there kid. Tide’s turning.

  16. Really enjoyed this PB. “Ancient code” a poignant idea. My only sibling is my sister who rarely dobbed the footy so mostly I was in the backyard by myself kicking goals between the fruit trees.


  17. Sebastian says

    From the boy next door Sebastian…………… thanks for making me famous. Go the Blues 4/0. Dockers 0/8.

  18. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful, wonderful stuff PB.
    And love the comment from the now famous Sebastian!

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