0312 Even The Best May Stumble Poem by Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Marton, Lancashire

0312 Even The Best May Stumble

Rating: 2.2

Let’s suppose
you’ve bought or blagged
an invite to a buzzy West End party
after the football game, where
you’ll ‘mingle with the stars’

and when you get there, all glammed up
and wearing your Saturday best,
you glimpse, beyond a velvet, guarded rope,
the ‘stars’ you just won’t mingle with –

those ‘celebs’ with not too much to do
except to party and be photographed,
‘stars’ who’re hoping thus to burn the brighter
in the starry glitter of their combined glow…

while the hungry media, mingling in symbiosis,
poised to photograph,
smooze and click to elevate
these passing comets into myth

* * *

But every now and then
onto the stage of public wild acclaim
strolls the myth itself, the archetypal
Aristotelian hero –

not quite the Job or Oedipus whom
the gods single out for test, with all their force;
but the classic hero of the public stage
with that one fatal flaw, and
without the Stoic wisdom that
all life’s a lesson to be learned, who
finally puts a magic foot wrong; and then
fate gives the golden best the final boot…

Shakespeare missed out, so it seems, on sport,
apart from the Royal tennis court,
otherwise he might have seen
Othello, as a footballer,
Desdemona his other half, his god-given, wonder-working skill;
Iago the tempter whispering with sex and booze around
the light and lustre of our hero’s life he drove himself to kill
so killed his very self

‘To wilful men
the injuries that they themselves procure
must be their schoolmasters’…
Shakespeare would have recognised him
for what he was: earth-striding idol, feet of golden clay.

Yet those who knew him, as Cordelia did King Lear,
loved him
beyond all tragedy. Yes, he was more than that -
we have the footage of that golden foot.

Ben Cassel 02 December 2005

American baseball had a counterpart to Best - Ken Caminiti, who played exquisitely for my hometown team, the San Diego Padres. His playing style epitomized the sport for those of us who love it, but his life off the field showed his fatal flaw (I'm not quite prepared to use 'tragic' flaw) . His career ended, he spiralled into a life alternating old-timers games and awards banquets with rehab and court, until he died of a heart attack at the age of 41. His fans and colleagues saw both sides of him and loved him with pity and fear. Thanks for showing the bridge between very different sports of very different nations. And to answer Max, some reasonably good poetry has been written about Caminiti. My own attempt, however, sucked.

0 0 Reply
Michael Shepherd 29 November 2005

Rich Hanson is the sport writer around here, Max. Maybe he'll be inspired... Andy, I intended a contrast, but it all fell apart and I nearly deleted it, I too prefer the second part. George Best was one of those whom one could easily be moralistic about, but those who knew him best (!) really loved him and his company. So there was something worth commemorating despite the self-destruction.

0 0 Reply
Max Reif 29 November 2005

This guy must've been really something. I wonder whether anyone in America could get poets going like this...

0 0 Reply

Michael Shepherd

Marton, Lancashire
Error Success