The United Affair - Michael Farry

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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-call,
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:

Bent, Byrne,
Colman, Edwards, Jones,
Pegg, Taylor, Whelan.

Since then I’ve followed, faithful
to memory and mishap,
advertised allegiance,
enjoyed, endured, supported.

Recently my mind’s not on it.
Determined to disengage,
this August I swore to ignore
the hype, the ballyhoo.
By mid-September I surrendered,
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)

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