That Football Match

Christmas 1914

It began with Tannenbaume
and shouts of ‘Got mit uns’,
and replies, ‘we got mittens too.’
They met hesitant at first,
between the wire.
On a crust of frozen mud,
swapped Princess Mary’s tins
of chocolate and tobacco
for Pickelhaube helmets,
and belt buckles. Saxon
shook hands with Celt and Saxon;
discussed how best to kill the lice.
Then field grey with khaki,
kicked a ball around –
but only after they’d agreed
to bury last week’s dead.

revised 25.9.09

Harry Nicholson

About Harry Nicholson

I'm an enameller who works with a kiln, fusing pictures in glass onto copper. I write a few poems and short stories. There is an eBook anthology of them, 'Green Linnet' on Amazon. Also a novel, 'Tom Fleck', set in the North of England of 1513 - the year of Flodden. A sequel to 'Tom Fleck' is 'The Black Caravel' published in 2016. My anthology of poems came out in 2015: 'Wandering About.' I've a blog of poems, stories and art at:
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27 Responses to That Football Match

  1. kolembo says:

    oh, oh, super!

    Glad I came across this, made me smile! I was like – eh? Poem about a soccer match? which teams? before the question became global!


  2. magher1 says:

    So descriptive! Nice read 🙂

  3. tinkwelborn says:

    a break for levity,
    a break to be human,
    a break for mankind.

  4. earlybird says:

    I like this, Harry. I gave Carol Ann Duffy’s poem to two people this year. Have you read ‘War Game’ by Michael Foreman?

  5. shail says:

    Enjoyed reading your poem 🙂

  6. Beautiful poem. It has been suggested to me here and there that the football match did not take place. I like to think that it did, (it’s such a fantastic story) and if it did, I would like to believe it went something like your description.

    • Thanks Edward. I did not know that some doubt the story – I thought there were loads of witnesses. I’ll look into it.
      My dad was wounded on the Somme by a shell, but that was 1916.

      • Yes there were loads of witnesses, but I think the suggestion is that most of them say something like ‘we heard about a football match taking place down the line’ and very few of them say ‘I played in a football match’. Having said that I’m sure I’ve read more than one postcard of the latter kind.
        Credit to your father. The 1916 Somme must have been an entirely different picture indeed.

  7. LifeInVerse says:

    I LOVE this story and this poem illustrates it beautifully! Amazing write!

  8. Andy says:

    Hello Harry.
    Vividly profound writing from you.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Thanks also for following my blog. It’s always nice to see a new face.

    A Flower And A Tear

  9. It’s like an old withered photograph coming alive. An image of raw beauty and truth captured in words. Thank you.
    Happy New Year!

  10. A good take on a forever relevant and forceful image. Some lovely phrases too-
    Pickelhaube helmets and belt buckles… Nice!
    Did you read Carol Anne Duffy’s poem published this year? Think I read it in the Guardian.

    • I was not aware of the poem, Lindsay. But I’ve found it now that you pointed it out. She is a fine laureate.
      Interesting that when I sent my poem to Stand magazine it was declined with a comment that implied no more could be said about the First War.

  11. becca givens says:

    It is amazing the overwhelming attitude of wanting peace and goodwill during this time of the year … tis a shame it cannot overflow throughout the remainder of the year ~~ Great write!

  12. Natalie says:

    your words fall and make photo alike shots very profoundly,

    well done.

  13. clariice says:

    I like the underlying humour from the prose.Unplanned allies and I could feel the friendly atmosphere in the air.

  14. I like your wording, different, British, new to me and the match etc..thanks
    happy rally!

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Lovely, Harry. Ordinary people don’t make wars;they just die in them.x

  16. Nice poem, Harry. Even in the midst of all that, the human heart was clearly evident. People don’t really want to fight with each other; governments do.

  17. Susannah says:

    Nicely done Harry. You captured that moment.

    Lovely to see you at I Saw Sunday again, I ‘ve missed you. 🙂

  18. Thanks, Viv. I’ve not heard of Tinman or his story – nothing came up on a search.

  19. vivinfrance says:

    Great poem. Did you see Tinman’s story on the same theme?

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