Viciously in our throats - Rob Taylor

- Accra Hearts of Oak v. Ashanti Gold, Tema Sports Stadium

So close to this man
fevered and screaming
at the refs, the coaches,
the players (especially poor
Owu, the opposition’s keeper)
and now at the police officers
with their slick black batons
he is screaming at them
for blocking his view and
as he screams they swagger
towards us and more of us
join in until the whole
section is shouting and
they finally back off
though someone near us
throws an empty bottle
which nearly hits its mark
and we feel suddenly close
to a certain kind of death (a
stubborn form of life throbbing
viciously in our throats)
as the police officers walk
to the side, batons swinging
casually, and the keeper drops
the ball off his foot and away –

"Viciously in our throats" is part two of our four-part series of poems on soccer. Previous installments can be viewed from our Archive page.


Darko Antwi said...


Last week's poem was, by every standard, monumental to our national game. 'The Phoenix' was by itself engaging - but this succession of related title is even remarkable.

'Viciously in our throats' defines Rob's observational skill and, much the same, makes him /his art worthy to be acknowledged as a true testament of our football culture. May I conclude that, among other works, this subject trucks the depth of his love for our sub-saharan country.

Upon reading 'The Phoenix', I felt the rapid euphoria that ran into my cerebrum. So I read and read. So many times, I read it. Nonetheless, I believe this virtual Hearts-Ashgold match will turn me into a compulsive reader.

Welldone Rob.

I have taken my seat in the stands. Sorry to say; I will be 'screaming' at anyone who blocks my view.

Unknown said...

Rob Taylor captures the intensity and idiosyncrasies of soccer in his commentative poem. I am taken to the match instantly and I can hear the sounds and see the sights of over-excited spectators and spirited players. I must agree with Darko Antwi that Rob is certainly a Ghanaian by beliefs and experience. Thanks, Brother Rob, for this gift of poetry!

L S said...

(a stubborn form of life throbbing viciously in our throats)

Isn't that what Africa is about? The menace that sorrounds and threatens to engulf its people, yet they survive, sometimes only just.

(Sorry, can't resist the politics)


Rob Taylor said...

Oh, never resist the politics! What would football be without them?

Thanks for the comments and support, all.

George Amoah said...

(as the police officers walk
to the side, batons swinging casually)

Rob, i having read this poem again and again and this part always reminds me of what happened to the guy supposed to have thrown the plastic bottle. the police men did not take it easy with him at all...

But most importantly, i say this poem is a great piece.
keep it up.

Anonymous said...

The madness being universal--remember as a nipper,short trousered,grazed knees,runny nose being lifted over the turnstile,for free,to watch--Ireland V Scotland.
22heads,22hearts.44legs--surrounded by 80,000 primitive people.
The magic,mystery-modern gladiators at it hammer and tongs

Anonymous said...

At it hammer and tongs from the first shrill--whistle.
Dont touch the kid next to you he is electric to--220volts vertebral.Silverzorro.

L S said...

One question Rob;

I find that I pause to look again, at the lines you've placed in brackets. Was that your intention, or did you want the reader to ignore those and continue, since that could be done as well?


Rob Taylor said...


Thanks for the great question.

The line is meant to hold a good deal of significance in the poem - one effort to show this is the line's repetition in the title.

It definitely isn't meant to function like many bracketed statements in prose writing, which provide only supplemental information and can be removed without effecting the meaning of the piece.

That said, the decision of whether it is read as part of the immediate moment of the poem, or as an aside or afterthought, is something I leave open to the reader.

When I perform it at readings, I do not do or say anything special to communicate that it is a bracketed statement (for instance, forming "air brackets" with my hands, or something), so for the listener it is integrated completely with the rest of the text. This seems to work fine.

Seeing it on the page, however, opens up new interpretations - including the "second look" phenomenon you are talking about. I can't say that that was directly my intention, but it is something I'm quite pleased to hear!

Rob Taylor said...

George, I love that insight.

Thank you everyone for your comments!

LS said...

Thanks Rob and cheers