Max

Max was a magical, marvellous man

hard as a nail

soft as sleet in the snow

 

done best he can do

‘til sleep surrounded –

miraculous Max – one day

found confounded

 

Max was ‘tall’ –

a drinking man? no

tawdry at times

a frugal face

once judgemental

 

with big heart

brave and bold

and views fundamental

 

Max knew things – more than most

markedly smart with sweet soul

family first, old or young

family always had been

 

home by six was his mantra

to play with the kids

luscious his love –

his smile, serene

 

gasping yet gracious

inviting pillow that night

the room was enveloped

the feeling so keen

 

gasping, so gracious

everything right

gaspingly gracious –

Max said;

Goodnight!

Now

Forever is ever

will never be lost

in trees in the woods

in the snow’s early frost

 

always is tomorrow

and days yet to come

now is the moment

we delight in the sun

 

the sky may be mourning

the wind saddened, it seems –

the tsunami of senses

that comes with the breeze

 

becomes something more

in the wings of the trees

from a bud to a blossom

in the Spring-time we see

 

no need for eyes –

our senses will tell

when we smell freedom

no longer under the spell

 

of life told to us

like a story-book, read

sitting upright

with a pillow

under blankets in bed

 

and once upon a time –

…the end.

 

we will cry

 

now is the time

that never says its

Goodbye.

The religion of football

Religion comes in many forms – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism – and then there is football. September is finals time for Australian Rules Football (AFL) and it is at this time of the year that this religion comes into its own, for it is a time all football fans celebrate the essence of togetherness, the discipline that football teaches.

AFL is followed by more fans than any other sport in Australia. It is the primary game we play in winter, and was originally derived by cricketers who wanted to play a sport that would keep them fit in the off-season. The people flocked to the game and it became the greatest of all spectator sports.

It attracted young men with a future that seemed all but lost before football came to town

Yet what type of spectator did this new-found game attract? It was the kind of game that gave young men a chance to pick themselves up from the ashes of unemployment and wealthy businessmen the ability to provide those young men with a future that seemed all but lost before football came to town.

It gave ordinary folk the chance to come to the game, sit in the pricey seats or stand in the standing-room only area, paying little to mix with those from a different background.

And there’s the rub.

AFL is a game that does not recognise colour or creed

AFL is a game, even today, especially today, that does not recognise colour or creed. It does not care whether you are black, brown, yellow or white. It has no concern whether you come from the rough  end of the sticks or the wealthy suburbs.

And neither do the spectators. With standing room a thing of the past, there is nothing left (other than the corporate boxes) to divide the rich from the poor. There is as much of a chance that the man or woman, adult or child, sitting next to you could be your best friend as they could a perfect stranger or an enemy in business, They may come from the other part of town, or a different town altogether. They could as well be a merchant banker as they could a carpenter, a retailer or a teacher. The child sitting in front of you could as well be educated in the public school system as he could the most toffee-nosed private school in suburban Melbourne.

These players have names like Christian Petracca, Travis Varcoe, Lin Jong, Mason Cox and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. They come from many and varied backgrounds, like the spectators watching their every move

Looking out to the field, the 100,000 fans see the players, running up and down, kicking and chasing, hand-passing and following, marking and celebrating a goal. These players have names like Christian Petracca, Travis Varcoe, Lin Jong, Mason Cox and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. They come from many and varied backgrounds, like the spectators watching their every move.

Petracca’s heritage is Italian, Varcoe Indigenous Australian, Jong is part Taiwanese, part Timorese, Cox comes from the Unites States and McDonald-Tipungwuti is a Tiwi Islander. Yet they are all footballers, accepted and celebrated for their talent, ability and prowess.

The fans ring out a cheer. Their fanaticism for their team is exhilarating

The fans ring out a cheer. Their fanaticism for their team is exhilarating. They are what makes the game great. Instances abound of a full house of fans, standing, to respect a minutes silence for the fallen on ANZAC Day. Or for the national anthem. No-one kneels at the stadium that is the AFL.

Togetherness, understanding, tolerance, sportsmanship

Togetherness, understanding, tolerance, sportsmanship. This is what we worship in September.

May it always be thus.

 

NB: Go to AFL.com.au for more information on the beauty that is Australian Rules Football

Finals football at the ‘G’

The ‘G’. The ground that draws a crowd.

This is the time of the year when everyone’s attention turns to football – in Australia at least. In the US they broadcast the game we love and created at 3am when you are all in  bed sound asleep but there are a few of you I know who are ardent followers of our great game.

Australian Rules Football (AFL) started as a sideshow, for cricketers to play in the off-season to keep themselves fit for the summer. The game sprouted from its fledgling beginnings in and around the suburbs of Melbourne, our second largest city, and home of ‘Aussie Rules’.

To begin with there were two sides, one from Melbourne itself and another from a nearby town called Geelong. In those early days there was one thing that surprised more than anything else – the game’s popularity.

That was 1859.

This weekend, over 91,000 people turned out to watch those two clubs (Melbourne and Geelong) fight out a tough elimination final. The night before, over 91,000 people attended the other elimination final. The first time in the history of the game that over 90,000 people had attended finals matches back to back.

You have to experience the game to understand it and even then it’s best to throw the rule book away and simply watch the game that is the definition of entertainment with the pleasure and excitement it engenders in us all.

In the US, the Superbowl is played at various stadiums around the country. In Australia we play the Grand Final, as we call it, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – note the connection to cricket here, each and every year.

Superbowl XIV attracted 103,985 people to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the highest ever attended Superbowl. The 1970 AFL/VFL Grand Final between Collingwood and Carlton holds the record for any sporting event in terms of crowd attendance held anywhere in Australia. Today, the ground holds an official capacity of 100,024, so it’s unlikely this record will ever be broken.

The game was played between two of the ‘heavy-hitters in AFL history and at half-time it saw Collingwood ahead by 42 points. Game over.

Not so fast.

Carlton came back to win by 10 points. As explained by Wikipedia

Late in the last quarter, with Carlton leading by less than a goal, Alex Jesaulenko snatched the ball on the half forward line and sent a left foot kick bouncing towards goal. With no one guarding the goals, the ball bounced through for a goal, sealing the game for Carlton, [who] completed a recovery, to triumph by 10 points, 17.9 (111) to 14.17 (101).

That day, the MCG attracted 121,696 banner-waving, crowd-pleasing, cheering fans.

The ground has only ever seen one event surpass this in terms of crowd attendance and that was for a 1959 evangelical tour by the late Billy Graham when more than 130,000 people turned out to listen to the crowd-pleasing evangelist . One fellow, quoted by the ABC, in an article on ABC.net.au who was there that day, says;

I felt God speaking to me

So it took God himself to surpass a record that will never be broken. Go figure!

To experience the excitement of the last four minutes of that game, go to YouTube

And to finish, I must include my own experiences at AFL Grand Finals, having been twice, the most recent attendance being in 2010, on 25th September, when I was one of the 100,016 people that saw Collingwood and St.Kilda play out…

a draw!

A week later I was in hospital when the two teams went round again for a replay of the Grand Final to finally try and split them apart. And split them apart they did, with Collingwood victorious on a day when I was only semi-conscious.

Ahh, what a great game it is. I hope you get to experience it some day and enjoy a spectacle that is beyond words.

Wild days

Oh but for those wild days

Where the yardarm greets the sun

I could abate the little bird

And be the only one

 

Who stands upon a portal

And sings upon a rock

Who nestles in the silent night

Walking to the expanse of the dock

 

Why jump; one thinks and ponders

Why not; one thinks again

Happenstance sits over yonder

But serendipity, she sends

 

A message – in a bottle –

Coming from the heart

Entice the ‘castle’, built on sandy coast

And thought of, like a cart

 

That travails in her journey

To and from her homestead land

Ending bi-coastal adventures

That reflect a supple hand

 

That leads to ebbs and flows

In the ocean they call life

A choice of vice or virtue

In the afternoon’s delight

 

Does light shine upon you

Or does darkness build a hole

Where innocence is lost

And guilt, from pride, will take its toll

 

If we mislay our innocence

And find our fault-line again

Will uncertainty be censured

And life’s hypothesis be sent

 

To a man who sits, enraptured

Reading knowledge, cast as thought

And understands the notion

That wisdom can’t be bought

 

Yet on the ‘castle’ stands a King

Looking out upon the stone

Where the man sits viewing sunsets

From what he terms his ‘throne’

 

And throughout the night he ponders

And wonders at the world

His smile – captivated –

His life is now  unfurled.

The Artist

If no man fall asunder

then let no man stand apart

the one who only had a fleeting glimpse

enjoys the subtle art

 

The paint and brush and easel stand

before the man who’s thinking

the finished piece, like artist’s hand

shakes before its sinking

 

Art – thy name is woman –

‘fifty shades of grey’

the passion of a suitor lost

should not be lost this way

 

Like a rope entangled

a life lived is like an hour

like the wild garden blooming

the plant – budding – brings a flower

 

Is it black and white – definitive

or is it made of colour

does exploration start at home

or stranger’s cottage, over yonder

 

Within the cottage stands a piece –

art no man had savoured

not ‘til artist, on his deathbed

was thy work in favour

 

When people come

they will not leave

like leaves on the ground

in Autumn

 

Oh, if only he

was here to see

the boat anchored

in his harbour

 

‘If only’ –

two words strong enough

to bring a storm

of force

 

Need not be lost

in frigid frost

stand up –

and hold the course.

More than myself

Can I create more than myself
And if I can, must I?
Is livelihood (like solitude)
About to pass me by?

At times we associate
With a view  – a sight to see
A sense of fatal curfew –
Of our own mortality

Can I build a house to share –
Must I share it once it’s built?
As accidental as a romance
That is driving by me still

Still as can be, in situ –
What situation is
Movement denies my sense of self –
Of soft and supple bliss

Where did she go –
Where is she now?
Is one’s life a curse
To spend it without paying forward –
Could anything be worse

For time will never stay at rest –
It waits for no man – sure, not I
Hasten, hustle, hurry –
Catch up!
Before I die.

But a second

Absence of a tryst to love

Does not abandon thee

From amorous encounters

In a world of make-believe

 

Absence of a single thought

Wants not a lesser being

Yet, in time one cannot become

What one cannot see

 

For sight to some means knowledge

Powered by the mind

If one be blind, does it decry

To be of lesser kind?

 

Yet absence of a sense to some

Means stronger touch and taste

A life lived but a second

Is the kind one ought not waste.

Milk and butter

The evening storm
The morning sun
The shining Summer – burning

Fire red
As ice is blue
The cold wind isn’t learning

That flowers bloom
From buds of Spring
Like Autumn leaves of colour

With startling sense –
Emulsified –
Like blending
full cream milk
With melting butter.

What dreams may come
What loss I live
Tumultuous the calling

As twilight descends
In darkened sky
My memories are falling.

Seasons derive an afterglow –
From demonstrative a movement
No need to shout – the whisper’s out
The cream of seasons isn’t Winter.

The darling buds
Know brighter times
When re-growth derives the season

As we run hard
To see tomorrow’s yard –
The day for true believing.

Love more than life

Love more than life
Tears over rain
Laughter stronger than stress  –
the weaker strain

Smile brighter
Than eye’s refrain
Arms outstretched
To face the sun

Heart so sore –
Creates a shroud
What can I do –
Who can I hold –
Where can I stand
To void the cloud

When I see the tears that fall
I think I know her not at all
Yet when I feel her touch my hand
I feel us walking on the sand

A new brand – or old one re-jigged
Arm ‘round shoulder as we stand
See laughter, tears and smiles through

You are my boat –
And I your crew.