Thirsty Books, 2006.
REVIEW by Sean Bradley
‘Game On!’ Author on Top of his Game.
Those familiar with the poetry of Eddie Gibbons know his boundless capacity for forging a funny and poignant poetic language from common speech that makes everyday things shine. In ‘Game On’ the everyday passions and patter that surround the game of football find their finest expression.
Two coats are best for posts.
The bars defined by stars.
The ball a small elusive
animal at twilight.
(The Starlight Cup)
These opening lines of the opening poem of this collection underpin the dream that is football for countless millions of people young and old.
Hours are devoured.
Dark is the park.
In a blink the Sink estate
fades from view.
But not just the dream: the impoverished reality of the fans’ lives is contrasted with the dream lifestyles of the highest paid players in ‘English for Foreign Footballers’ and here in ‘Cargoes 2000’
Spicy scented Givency splashing on at Wembley
Parking your Ferrari by exclusive stores
Freezing cold supporters holding touted tickets
Bustling through the turnstile when it’s raining stones.
In their outfits of cut price, marked-down, Nike-ticked
Shell Suits, Reeboks and mobile phones.
The cruel humour of the football crowd is brought into sharp relief in ‘Posh Spice Takes it Up the Charts’, and the totally humourless racist jibes of some fans in ‘Cereal’ which is dedicated to the ‘60’s Leeds United player Albert Johanneson. Even the Old Firm bigots get a balanced but separate treatment - or is it transportation? - in ‘On the Green Train’ and ‘On the Blue Bus’.
More innocent figures crowd the pages of this slim volume: the linesman, the referee, the poet himself going to the match on his dad’s shoulders, and the lone streaker.
But what the reader is left with is the inexhaustible dream that is football, and the inexhaustible spirit and belief that haunts Gibbons’ poetry. In an earlier collection he combined those dreams, of poetry and football, in a memorable poem which tells of the shifting fortunes of the North Sea oil industry in which he worked-
Meanwhile, I’ve decided
on the Writer’s life.
into Doric and selling
the texts at reserve games
It’s the job security
that attracts me.
(‘The Marginal Fields’ from Stations of the Heart 1999)
Game On! REVIEW
Eddie Gibbons has an enviable ability to rhyme and write with economy, precision and perception... He shows that it is possible to write proper poems about football, poems that go beyond the reflecting back of apparent reality, poems that hint at something a little bit more elusive, allusive and haunting.
STUART BUTLER, Poet and Editor - http://www.footballpoets.org/index.asp