Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Play the Game

Twenty-two stalwarts in stripes and shorts
    Kicking a ball along,
Set in a square of leather-lunged sports
    Twenty-two thousand strong,
Some of them shabby, some of them spruce,
    Savagely clamorous all,
Hurling endearments, advice or abuse,
    At the muscular boys on the ball. 

Stark and stiff ’neath a stranger’s sky
    A few hundred miles away,
War-worn, khaki-clad figures lie,
    Their faces rigid and grey—
Stagger and drop where the bullets swarm,
    Where the shrapnel is bursting loud,
Die, to keep England safe and warm—
    For a vigorous football crowd!

Football’s a sport, and a rare sport too,
    Don’t make it a source of shame.
To-day there are worthier things to do.
    Englishmen, play the game!
A truce to the League, a truce to the Cup,
    Get to work with a gun.
When our country’s at war, we must all back up—
    It’s the only thing to be done!

Credit


This poem is in the public domain.

 

Author


Jessie Pope

Jessie Pope was born in 1868 in Leicester, England. She is best known for her poetry of World War I, published in Jessie Pope’s War Poems (G. Richards, 1915) and More War Poems (G. Richards, 1915). Pope died in 1941 in Devon, England.

Date Published: 2018-11-11

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/play-game