Transfer Deadline Day

Football players will vanish
from their clubs. They will not have time
to clean out their locker, hug the tea lady,
tell anyone where they are going.
The stadium they leave will stay standing,.
Strangers will keep gathering to sing
and eat pies and yell at referees trying their best,
while old teammates try to adapt,
speak a new language, trust new hands.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

Seventeen years

My son’s forehead protrudes
like a crash helmet.
There’s not a blemish on it.
It’s soft like the padding
of a brand new goalie glove.
I imagine it growing freckles.
I imagine it growing into the shape
of an Arsenal Football Club canon.
I imagine it growing across the road
outside a midnight country pub.
Today your skin has been gone
longer than it was here
for us to really get to know it.
I imagine it growing.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

I love goalkeepers

I love goalkeepers.
Probably more than I should.
I think I love goalkeepers
because they’re loners on a crowded pitch.
They put everyone else in front of themselves.

I respect that they do a job no one else wants.
A job that when it goes wrong
it goes really wrong.
A job that when it goes well
it was just expected of them.

I like how everyone seems to think
goalkeepers are odd.
I like how they are odd.

I love watching them do nothing
for 89 minutes
then save the world in the other.

I like that they’re not footballers.
They’re handballers.
I like that they chose the one role
that goes against rule number 1.
I like that they’re number 1.
I like that they’re sometimes number 13.
I like that they’re not scared of number 13.

I like how they stand in front of bullets, willingly.

I like how when they do something good
after their defenders have done something bad
they never acknowledge the good thing they’ve done
and bang their important hands together
offering words of encouragement.

I once heard a story of a goalkeeper
so desperate for the loo
he popped his willy out the bottom of his shorts,
mid match,
hid it from the cameras and crowd
using one of his large gloves
and pissed up a goalpost.

It may or may not have been Fabien Barthez.

I love Fabien Barthez.

I love that goalkeepers have different
fashion sense than their mates.

I love that they can kick the ball
further than the players
who get paid to only kick the ball
can kick the ball.
I love that they can almost
throw the ball further
than the players who get paid to kick the ball
can kick the ball.

I love how long their arms are.

I love thinking about
how good goalkeepers are at hugging.

I love goalkeepers
because they play the game
longer than the outfield players do.
Something I wish came true for you
every time a Saturday kicks off.

© Carl Burkitt 2019

Deadline Day

Transfer deadline day makes me think of you.
Late nights drinking in your memory
over news coming through of ridiculously over-priced moves.
Clubs losing their stars like we lost ours,
fans reluctantly told to move on.
But this year things have changed.
They moved the date forward from your birthday
to the middle of August
and made Premier League teams
finalise things before the new year began.
But the lower league lot still have tonight.
So while the big wigs sleep tight,
Swindon will be up all night
toasting a ’keeper they wish they held on to.

© Carl Burkitt 2018

Boring things I’ve never had the chance to say to you

How’s work?
Saw your holiday pics on Facebook. Looked nice.
Where you living now?
Can’t make it tonight but have one for me!
Reckon you could sponsor me?
Your family good?
I’m alright, not much to report.
Seen anyone from school lately?
Brexit, eh?
I’ll send you the link.
Let’s get something in the diary.
Happy 30th, mate.
I miss you.

© Carl Burkitt 2017


29. The age of Kasper, son of Peter. I don’t think you would’ve heard of him in a footballing context, but he’s turned out pretty good. The last solid memory I have of you in goal was when I tripped backwards and broke my wrist. I opted for the Jamie Vardy blue cast, way before that 29-year-old was even in non-league, let alone playing for England. Time can fog the mind and death most certainly tints it rosie but, while I remember you laughing as I hit the ground, you were definitely the first to check I was ok. Probably. 14 years ago we were asked to write letters you’d never read. “Almost gone the whole season unbeaten. Just need to win against Leicester. Easy.” How times have changed. I watched them lift the trophy this year and thought of what you might have achieved – besides, of course, making me well up at a smiling Wes Morgan.

© Carl Burkitt 2016


When I’m bored I think of you
And imagine you killing the time
By climbing that tree;
Kissing a girl;
Calling your mum.

When I’m alone I think of you
And imagine you filling the void
By going to that pub;
Talking to a stranger;
Saying yes to a friend.

When I’m pissed off I think of you
And imagine you solving the problem
By cracking that smile;
Shrugging your shoulders;
Seeing the silver lining.

When I’m lazy I think of you
And image you using your body
By running a marathon;
Completing a triathlon;
Doing literally what ever the fuck you can.

When I succeed I think of you
And I thank you
For no longer being here
So that I can think of you.

© Carl Burkitt 2015

The worst goalkeeper I ever played with

You were,
without a doubt,
the worst goalkeeper I ever played with.

Six, seven, eight nil,
it was often your fault,
your 10-year-old arms flapping in the wind.

Having a flailing and wailing
custodian behind me
made my job as a defender that much harder;
my confidence diminishing
whenever the ball went past me.

When you eventually left the team,
we won games.
When you eventually left the game,
we lost our team.

What I’d give today
for a soft, floated cross to come in to our box,
slip through your hands
and smash you in the face;
The ball bursting
on your everlasting smile.

© Carl Burkitt 2013

25th birthday

I’ll be down the pub tonight, like every year, catching up, swapping stories, necking beer,
my hand resting on an
empty stool

“I should really delete his number, he’s got no signal up there,” I’ll joke. Like I always do

A slap on the back

Sambuca shots will struggle down our throats as eight-year-old traditions
force their way
into our evening

Confused rounds of dirty pints and luminous cocktails, interspersed with his favourite Simpsons quotes

A slap on the back

“Prince Charming!” will be yelled as the young DJ Googles Adam Ant, Birthday Pimms all round

Wobbly steps and curry sauce, dreaming of his wife and where he’d live and where’d he work and if he would be here with us right now

A slap on the back

Sleepy goodbyes and unforced cries before we trudge off, ready to tuck our memories under the duvet

The only light, an iPhone light: “See you next August. Love you mate. x”


© Carl Burkitt 2012