Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jack Pulls the Perfect Pint / Gary Mackay / Silverware

With calm, cool assurance,
He held the glass steady.
A trial of endurance,
Though patently ready.
Angled obliquely,
The glass never wavered,
The liquid poured sleekly,
So potently flavoured.
The caramel foment
Was arching and swirling,
He paused for a moment
To watch the fronds curling.
Time barely ticking,
The chaos abated.
Lips drily licking,
He patiently waited.
A head white and creamy,
Sat shining so proudly,
Aspiring and dreamy
And gleaming so loudly.
Beneath lay the porter
So black and enticing,
The dark, heavy water
A-topped with smooth icing.
And when he had judged it,
He filled the glass slowly,
Just carefully nudged it
With reverence holy.

In Stuttgart was culled
The results of endeavour,
When Jack Charlton pulled
The most perfect pint ever.
St. Gary Mackay of Sacred Hearts

Down in a pub on Dublin’s quays,
I drank my pint with carefree ease.
Above the bar, a fuzzy screen
Showed football. Not the Boys in Green,
But Scotland playing in Sofia.
And though the picture wasn’t clear,
We knew the Bulgars were on top
And soon our dreams would slow, then stop.

The qualifiers were nearly o’er,
And though we had come to the fore,
Bulgaria needed but a point
To put our noses out of joint.
Nobody thought the Scots could win,
Prepared to take it on the chin.
And so unconfident were we
The people watching numbered three.

Chances came and chances went.
The ball, it seemed, the whole time spent
In Scotland’s half – and thus our hopes
Were swaying madly on the ropes.
But then, with minutes left but few,
The customers (now numbered two –
Myself and some lad in a cap
Who seemed to be a daycent chap)
Sat open-mouthed in disbelief
As Scotland, like a brazen thief,
Broke once upfield and young Mackay
Became the apple of Ireland’s eye
By firing left foot low and hard
To catch their keeper off his guard.

We stared, our minds engulfed in cloud.
Was it a goal, or disallowed?
A goal! A goal! We yelled and screamed –
All hell had broken loose, it seemed.
Bulgaria threw everything
Into attack. Balls down the wing
Came sailing o’er, attackers leapt,
But somehow Scots defenders kept
Them out. One shot then struck the post!
Sweet Lord, it really was the most
Nerve-wracking time I’ve ever spent –
The pressure did not once relent.

And then the final whistle blew
And, for the first time, we were through!

With the rest of the world heading Mexico way,
Big Jack turned his back on the sun.
We flew up to Iceland to skies cold and grey
To engage in some Arctic-style fun.
‘Twas not a big tournament, only three teams
Whose World Cup ambitions became shattered dreams,
But up in the land of great weather extremes,
We ended up second to none.

We’d never won nothing, we’d never been blessed
To qualify out of a group.
Our lack of cohesion, despite our great zest,
Had landed us oft in the soup.
But here against Iceland and then ‘gainst the Czechs,
We started to see things with rosier specs.
When we won the damned Cup it was better than sex
And we felt like the cock of the hoop.

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