Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mark Pirie’s ode on cricket and rugby

This year it’s the Rugby World Cup 2011. There’s no bigger game than rugby this year, in New Zealand at least. Here’s an ode I wrote combining cricket and rugby during the Rugby World Cup in 2003. The All Blacks were well beaten in the semis by Australia. I watched it in the Bellevue Hotel with members of the Hutt District Cricket Club and Senior team. New Zealanders will hope there’s no repeat this year. I can still remember my delight (against Eastbourne, Senior 3 level) watching my cover drive racing along the ground to the boundary, in total contrast to the anguish that followed later that night. Playing at Eastbourne can be fun, especially if you like fetching balls hidden by pinecones along the beach.


Ode, in the Bellevue

The rain came finally
driving us from the field
but not before we’d
    been in grave danger

of collapsing on
a mud-rolled pitch that gave
little to the seamers,
   let alone the spinners.

I was happy enough, making
five not out with a square
drive that ran to the fence
  for four. Then,

later, it was time for the
‘big show’: NZ versus Australia
the World Cup semi-final.
   After a few beers

at the clubrooms we sidled
down to the Bellevue
and watched it in the corner,
   a group of us cricketers

with an eye on the TAB,
and an eye on the beer.
By half-time, the eyes and mood
   of the group were changing.

Only an hour before
we’d picked a 20 point win,
a cruise to the final, and
    a showdown with either

England or France. But this
was not to be, as the Wallaby
defence held and repelled
    the All Black attacks.

By the end most had
started to leave,
giving up completely,
   knowing it’d be

another four years to wait
and a new team to build.
The few left, watched on, as eyes
    sank to even lower levels,

like entering an abyss, similar I
thought to Dante’s Inferno. It
was writ on my mind
   as the final whistle blew.

Bellevue Hotel, Lower Hutt, 2003

Poem © Mark Pirie 2007

(From The Search: Poems and Stories, Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, 2007)

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