Skip to main content

Poetry in Motion


Why one Reds supporter is committing his love for Liverpool FC to verse

Liverpool FC and poetry have a lot of previous – from John Toshack’s Gosh It’s Tosh collection in the late 70s, to the verse of Dave Kirby and Peter Etherington in the fanzine Red All Over the Land, to the lines written by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, a University of Liverpool graduate, in the aftermath of 2012’s Hillsborough findings. Now there’s Ben Wilkinson, Reds fan and book critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, who’s compiling a series of poems commemorating the club’s legends. “Football is part of the fabric of life, and anything that’s important to people finds its way into poetry,” he says. “Wilfred Owen’s poem 'Disabled' describes a soldier who loses the use of his legs, meaning he can never play football again. Philip Larkin’s 'MCMXIV' compares boys queuing to join the army to fans outside Villa Park. These poems have stood the test of time because they recognise that football is more than just sport – it’s a way of life.

Stafford-born Ben, whose grandfather worked in the shadow of the Liver Building, was inspired by a collection of Philip Larkin verse to write about what he loved. “I’m interested in the way everyone comes together at the match, how there’s this feeling of hope and possibility. When I came to write 'Liverpool v Derby County' I wanted to capture a specific memory – the first game I saw at Anfield. Watching John Barnes and Robbie Fowler left a big impression. It wasn’t an easy poem to write – trying to explain how an ‘ordinary’ game meant so much to a 10-year-old lad. But it’s an experience most football fans will recognise.”

Feature and poem in the Official Liverpool FC Monthly Magazine, issue 20, April 2014




ermferrari said…
Down to the red moleskine, I like it.
Ben Wilkinson said…
Cheers Edward. Only thing missing is a pint of Carlsberg eh (even if I'm more of a real ale man myself).

Popular posts from this blog

Way More Than Luck: 27.2.18 - the launch

Way More Than Luck (Seren Books, 2018)

From the thumping heartbeat of the distance runner to the roar of football terraces across the decades, Ben Wilkinson’s debut confronts the struggles and passions that come to shape a life. Beginning with an interrogation of experiences of clinical depression and the redemptive power of art and running, the collection centres on a series of vivid character portraits, giving life to some of football's legends. By turns frank, comic, sinister and meditative – ‘the trouble with you, son, is that all your brains are in your head’ – these poems uncover the beautiful game’s magic and absurdity, hopes and disappointments, as striking metaphors for our everyday dramas. Elsewhere there are tender love poems, political satire and strange dream worlds, in an urgently lyrical book of poems that take many forms and modes of address: pantoum, sonnet, sestina; epistle, confession, dramatic monologue. All are united by a desire to speak with searching clarity about matters of the heart. Way More …