We would roll down to the ground
Through wintry streets
Smell the liniment
Feel the cold
And our footy coats keep us warm
That was long ago when he was a boy
Now he’s on sunny shores
Drilling the oil
Feeling the pressure
And we don’t go down to the ground anymore.
No more pies together
No autographs, no cheers
30,000 voices and it’s empty without his
We both work and our homes are away
But he calls me every game
At half time
He calls every time
But there’s never enough time.
This poem was highly commended for Poetry Object 2018
‘Our footy coats’ employs subtle internal and end rhyme (‘down’ and ‘ground’, ‘away’ and ‘game’) and the juxtaposition of contrasting states (the ‘wintry streets’ of the past and the ‘sunny shores’ of the present) to convey the manner in which distance grows between a parent and child over the passage of time.
The line ‘30,000 voices and it’s empty without his’ is particularly affecting; the repetition of ‘time’ at the end of each of the final three lines, each with a different inflection (‘half time’, ‘every time’, ‘never enough time’), is a nuanced way to reinforce the theme of irrevocable change.
~ Bella Li, Judge, Poetry Object 2018
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