Okey Ndibe
Not Football

It’s a game of the hand
Each play a drive for ten
Or for the rich line
That pays six hefty points.

Heaves, grunts and knuckles
Lend a halting, bone-cracking music.
Hunted by hawing foes
Each hooded carrier wades forward
Through fury-paved paths.

Whenever the occasion calls
On the foot to kick
It’s for a consolation—a dream, at most,
Of three points
When the hand can’t avail the zone.

Name it then what it is:
Maybe handball—with violence
Or rugby by bigger, rounder men
Or even not football.

Football’s an orchestra
Of feints, bobs, weaves, slices and slides.
It befits the feet.
While the feet’s engaged
The head’s kept.

A name pilfered from the playground
Must be returned
Else soccer might steal football’s name.