Ian C Smith


Football Father

Cars are family boxes at the coliseum
fast food truth in advertising
beer on sale, my van’s entry scrutinized
for grog hiding behind my wowser’s denial
that masks a daze of my drinking past.
I travel in drab mufti now, unlike

the footballers, and men in uniform
sporting beards with shaved cheeks
caps, jeans, wide belts, keys, cell phones.
I speak football as a second language.
Observing ritual, our loud mini-community
watches a boy sent off for swearing because

umpires are cheats, the enemy, thugs
including supporters, many overweight
ditto several under eighteen warriors.
A mother urges assault of a big lad
with Say no to family violence
sponsored on his jumper when a drink bottle

tossed in camaraderie from the dugout
hits Bomber, star onballer, on the head
as he crosses the line for a breather
and the team Runner lights a cigarette.
Churchillian in his half-time oration
the hoarse coach bears defeat with grace.

Driving us home past wind-riffled grass
I think of Dylan Thomas’s wild boys
town truants as innocent as strawberries
those boys of summer in their ruin.



Ian C Smith lives in the Gippsland Lakes region of Victoria. His work has appeared recently in The Dalhousie Review (Can.), Eureka Street, Heat, Meanjin, The Sleepers Almanac, & Westerly. His latest book is Memory like Hunger, and his new work, Lost Language of the Heart will appear in early 2010 (Ginninderra Press).

Smith writes: “At 17, my son, a gold-medallist at rowing, a sport about which I know almost nothng, played his first season of football, my old sport from days before poetry, before many changes in my life. He might have been trying to please me. Although he, and the team, played well, I left the match feeling in need of a drink, a drop-kick of a drink. When I arrived home I roughed out the first draft of ‘Football Father’ instead.”