The United Affair
That February Friday a depression
brought sleet and snow over north Connaught.
Scarved and gloved against the forecast,
I shattered ice with Christmas shoes
on my way to school.
The first snow shower darkened
the high windows before roll-
distracted me from long division.
I got two wrong.
At eleven, soccer sidelined,
we improvised a runway,
took turns to skim across the playground
almost took off.
After three I dragged
my shoes home through slush.
Slanting sleet chilled and drenched.
The fire revived me.
When father brought the newspaper
I read the lists, scanned the photographs,
smiling, dead or dying:
Colman, Edwards, Jones,
Pegg, Taylor, Whelan.
Since then I’ve followed, faithful
to memory and mishap,
enjoyed, endured, supported.
Recently my mind’s not on it.
Determined to disengage,
this August I swore to ignore
the hype, the ballyhoo.
listened for the lists again:
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Preston North End 1
Sheffield Wednesday 0 Manchester United 3
Published in Asking for Directions (Doghouse Books, 2012)