I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.

Ursla Le Guin (1929-2018)

The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969

Football Mad

by Benjamin Zephaniah
Juggling Footballs

Oh no, bless my soul!
Clever Trevor scored a goal
So he runs up the pitch and wiggles his botty
He gets kissed by ten men all sweaty and snotty
He's waving his fist to the queen who just stares
The lad's going crazy but everyone cheers
Now, whacha doing?
He's chewing the cud
Now, whacha doing?
He's rolling in mud
Now, he is crying
I think he's in pain
Now what's he doing?
He's smiling again

Oh no, bless my soul!
Clever Trevor scored a goal
He's doing gymnastics
He's doing some mime
He's kissing the ground for a very long time
He's now on his back with his feet in the air
And he's gone all religious and stopped for a prayer
Did he pray for the sick?
Did he pray for the poor?
No he prayed for the ball
And he prayed to score
No-one, but no-one can restart the game
Until Trevor has had his moment of fame

Oh no, bless my soul!
Clever Trevor scored a goal
He kicked the ball into the net
How much money will he get?

Suggested approach

Shuffle the strips. The students take turns taking a strip at random and reading the line on the strip. Answer any questions about vocabulary and meaning. Then read through the poem and have the students assemble it. Alternatively use this video of the poet reading the poem, himself.


For large classes either put the students into groups of 4-6 and use multiple sets of strips or make one large set. Students aim to stand side by side and display each line in order as the poem is read.

The PDF includes two versions of the poem - the straight poem and one with a box at the font of each line. The boxes can be used to record the number of syllables in each line, or the rhyming scheme. Noticing rhyming patterns is a useful skill for students to develop. A crossword is also included.

There is an eLesson page on the IATEFL Global Issues SIG website featuring the video of the poem.

There's a clip of Benjamin Zephaniah talking about football and theatre on YouTube

Put up 24th June 2018