Wednesday, October 30, 2013

George Kaye’s 1974 NZ cricket poem

A cricket poem I found recently is in a book donated to PANZA (Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa). It’s in a hardback, beautifully produced collection Boots and Pack by George Kaye, printed in 1974.
There are no biographical details given for the poet but he appears to have grown up in Lower Hutt and the Hutt Valley in the Wellington region of New Zealand.
Included in the book are illustrations by Peter McIntyre (1910-1995, the WWII New Zealand artist) and it is well printed by Wright & Carman Ltd, Trentham, Hutt Valley.
PANZA has a second book by Kaye titled Hills of Life (1978).
A search of the National Library online catalogue brings up several other books by this author who was born on 14 March 1914 and was a war correspondent and photojournalist for the press. Kaye served with the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Forces in World War II. He has also authored history books about Lower Hutt and the WWII New Zealand campaigns in Greece and Italy and contributed photographs to other books. Kaye died in 2004. Peter Kitchin wrote a tribute for him ‘War seen through a lens’, The Dominion Post, 15 July 2004.
In Kitchin’s obituary he focuses mainly on his war period and the 7,000 images that Kaye took during WWII, including a well-known photo of General Bernard Freyberg. Kaye commenting on his time at war said: ‘I felt death pass me by and that scared me. You have got to experience a brush with death before you experience a war.’
Bruised in to poetry by the death of his son tramping at age 16, poetry became another avenue for his snapshots of life.
I did not find any mention of his cricket interest. His other interests were cornet playing with the Lower Hutt Municipal Band, and he was a noted public speaker. There are, however, references to a “Kaye” playing Junior grade cricket in the Hutt 1930-32 in Papers Past searches at the National Library of New Zealand. It is inconclusive that this is George Kaye himself.
Besides his obvious love of the outdoors and tramping, Kaye’s Boots and Pack contains the rhyming cricket poem I found that I’ll reproduce here. It’s a well-worn theme, the metaphor of cricket and life, but the poem has a good ending: ‘Though if we’ve scored but poorly, / Does it really matter? / For in the end, the bowler, / Always beats the batter.’



For every one that’s in,
There’s always one that’s out;
Life’s a game of cricket,
Or something thereabout.

And standing at the wicket,
We watch every ball;
Some we miss and some we hit,
If we try to play them all.

We may not last an over,
We may not even bat;
Though some play on for ages,
At least it seems like that.

And when they face the bowler,
There’s very little doubt,
They’ll last a long, long innings;
But in the end they’re out.

And when the score is added up,
Of every run that’s made,
There may be satisfaction
In the way the game was played.

Though if we’ve scored but poorly,
Does it really matter?
For in the end, the bowler,
Always beats the batter.

Poem © George Kaye 1974

(From Boots and Pack by George Kaye, self-published 1974)

Article © Mark Pirie 2013


  1. Hi Mark, George Kaye was my Grandad Vincent's brother. They all grew up in Lower Hutt, George and his sister Eva staying there their lives almost.
    I don't recall Uncle George having an interest in tramping nor cricket, but Boots and Pack is written in memory of his son David, who died in the Tararua Ranges in around 1970 as you have stated.
    His wife Betty was also an author and she died about 6 months before him. George died in his sleep, maybe of a broken heart.
    What I do recall of Uncle George was his mass of books. His lounge room in Hume St, Ava was floor to ceiling bookshelves.

    It was nice to come across this blog (I'm not a cricket fan!) about him though and I thank you for your article.

  2. I've happened upon your blog whilst searching for detail on teen David Kaye who was a fellow member of the Tararua Tramping Club in the early 70s. I had the privilege, and pleasure, of accompanying them - David and his friend Brent - down the track to Otaki Forks after a working party weekend at Field Hut,and can still recall their enthusiasm for the Tararuas, the TTC and their being away in the hills. Their April 1973 drownings were such a loss, at a time when their lives were being primed for manhood.