To accompany our first, post re-launch article on Scottish Football Poetry – we asked our five featured poets to help us choose a selection from their work. The poems we’ve chosen are below. They are (like the poets themselves) a diverse bunch – ranging from Stephen Watt’s hyper-kineticism, to Jim Mackintosh’s determined anger, to Julie McNeil’s bruised courage. We hope you enjoy them and go on to enjoy more of the work of these five, marvellous writers. GRB. 

By Ony Ither Name

The scouts wir left staunin. Defenders, the same,
When the seventh flew in in the unner eights game;
“Haw, gie us a bell when thon Ross laddie grows!”
Yon scouts are still waitin. Yon laddie wis Rose.

Rose Reilly, Rose Reilly, yer feet are sae fleet,
Ye megged aw the laddies an made thaim tae greet;
The boys that wir chasin ye hadnae a chance,
Rose Reilly, Rose Reilly, ye led thaim a dance!

They tried tae disguise ye wi short back an sides,
But yer smarts wir the staun-oot that nae man could hide;
Nae dummy wis spat when they gied ye a doll,
Ye jist went doon the playgrund an swapped for a ball.

Rose Reilly, Rose Reilly, the tanner baw Pele,
They gied ye the belt an they prayed tae expel ye;
The heidies wir haundin doon ban efter ban,
But Rose Reilly, Rose Reilly, wis aff tae Milan!

It’s easy tae caw it the muive o yer dreams
When ye stairt aff in Stewarton, wind up in Reims;
But this wis yer hame, an ye’d mebbe hiv steyed
If the pouers-that-be wir the pouers-that-peyed.

Rose Reilly, Rose Reilly, yer name micht be flouery,
But yer hert wis like ice when ye wore the Azzurri;
Lionesses noo rampant wir jist wakin up,
Rose Reilly, Rose Reilly, had won the Warld Cup!

The pageant, the contest, the lycra-tight figure,
The warld then was sma; but you made it bigger.
They banned ye fae fitba for sweet SFA,
But nae goalie could stop ye, an neither could they.

Rose Reilly, Rose Reilly, the fix wis aye in,
Short skirts for the lassies, twa points for the win;
But the net couldnae haud ye, ye shot throu the waw,
Rose Reilly, Rose Reilly, the belle o the baw!

By Thomas Clark
A Scottish Cup Journey

[A Scottish Cup Journey is a video-poem set to music. Click here to view]

By Hamish Macdonald
Barrels of Veneer 
(In response to the World Cup 2022 being held in Qatar)
barrels for goal posts
emptied of their oil become
pawns in the tragic translation
between what matters to Us
and the swollen coffers of Them
in stadiums built of hot sand
where the pitch is marked out 
with the blood of slave labour 
ask yourself what matters to You
and the discarded lives of Others
when the seat your sitting on
has been scrubbed clean 
of their cheapened sweat – and
you don’t challenge its cost 
it will remain empty of soul
but in the air-conditioned gloss
fronted by smiles of veneer when
the first game of distraction begins
not then the abuse of our history 
for this is our beautiful game. Isn’t it?

By Jim Mackintosh
When he asks if we’re feeling the pressure, the answer is we’ve felt it all our lives. Just the right amount to squeeze a pal’s hand when she is breaking, to cup a daughter’s face and tell her she’s more than good enough. The extra hours burning the midnight oil to prove you’re just as smart as them and to then get up and burn the oil again. The pressure in your legs when you drive hard towards the goal determined you will earn your place as the team’s one and only girl The pressure to look, or feel, or be as they’d expect. Nothing more and nothing less. So when he asks if we’re feeling the pressure of a nation on our backs, our answer is “Aye” but we girls know a thing or two about that. By Julie McNeil
Something Like Van Basten’s

Oooooohhhhhhhhh GOAL!
What – a – goal!

That may well be the greatest thing I’ve seen
since Aberdeen
won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1983.

I want that goal hanging in a photo
above my bed.
I want that goal framed inside my head.
I want that goal in a twenty square foot canvas
hanging from the ceiling
for everyone to see. What an unbelievable feeling.

I want that goal tattooed
over every inch of my back.
I want that goal printed on a label
on a bottle in my wine-rack.
                I don’t have a wine-rack
                but that goal tastes as sublime
                as a single vineyard cognac.

The pass that led to that goal
was world class.
That goal was fast, slick, broadcast countrywide.

That goal was


By Stephen Watt

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The Glasgow Review of Books (ISSN 2053-0560) is a review journal publishing short and long reviews, review essays and interviews, as well as translations, fiction, poetry, and visual art. We are interested in all forms of cultural practice and seek to incorporate more marginal, peripheral or neglected forms into our debates and discussions. We aim to foster discussion of work from small and specialised publishers and practitioners, and to maintain a focus on issues in and about translation. The review has a determinedly international approach, but is also a proud resident of Glasgow.

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