This poem was commissioned as part of the Thinking Outside the Penalty Box project celebrating African lives in football. It was included in the Young Poets Network challenge of the same name and inspired young poets to write in response. This poem, alongside three other commissioned poems, the challenge winning poems, and poems created in a workshop with Kayo Chingonyi at The Poetry Society, appear in the free Thinking Outside the Penalty Box anthology which you can read here. To find out more about this poem and the project, visit the Thinking Outside the Penalty Box page. Nick Makoha is reading with Peter Kahn and Malika Booker at the Poetry Cafe on Wednesday 27th June

Lone Star

by Nick Makoha

 for George Weah

Lone Star, you were a man on the run
when you picked the ball up on the edge
of your penalty box. A planet at your feet,
San Siro stadium sealed tight so nothing
escapes. The crowd a pair of eyes as you
moved toward the light. One man in costume
dancing across the pitch as if he were liquid
weight, a flicker, black Orpheus with five minutes
to go. The opposition’s error believing that you
were on your own. Past the halfway line
was the future, wide open like the shores of Liberia.
You ran like a man with a ship to catch. Like smoke
you had a story to tell. The boy from a village
without a well, who never spoke of money or the war.
At their forty yard line you struck the ball like a match.
Released from your spell it curled into their goal.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

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