The Shirt Poem by Carol Ann Duffy

The Shirt

Rating: 4.7

Afterwards, I found him alone at the bar
and asked him what went wrong. It's the shirt,
he said. When I pull it on it hangs on my back

like a shroud, or a poisoned jerkin from Grimm

seeping its curse onto my skin, the worst tattoo.

I shower and shave before I shrug on the shirt,

smell like a dream; but the shirt sours my scent

with the sweat and stink of fear. It's got my number.
I poured him another shot. Speak on, my son. He did.
I've wanted to sport the shirt since I was a kid,

but now when I do it makes me sick, weak, paranoid.

All night above the team hotel, the moon is the ball

in a penalty kick. Tens of thousands of fierce stars

are booing me. A screech owl is the referee.

The wind's a crowd, forty years long, bawling a filthy song

about my Wag. It's the bloody shirt! He started to blub
like a big girl's blouse and I felt a fleeting pity.
Don't cry, I said, at the end of the day you'll be back

on 100K a week and playing for City.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Topic(s) of this poem: sports
Edward Kofi Louis 24 June 2015

Alone at the bar. Nice work.

14 5 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 27 April 2016

I found him alone! Thanks for sharing.

15 3 Reply
Bill Wright 22 April 2016

I don't think I have ever read a football poem before.

15 3 Reply

A wonderful poem made out of a simple concept of a shirt. Beautiful poem.

1 0 Reply
Peter 19 November 2017

her poems are horrible

4 18 Reply
Patrick 31 January 2022

Well if the poem is bad, why don't you write a better one?

2 0
Susan Williams 27 April 2016

I am intrigued with this. I think I shall have to reread it several times to get exactly what is going on. But I think he feels unworthy to wear his team's shirt. I like the set-up, the story element, and the way it ends. I do want to read more by her.

19 3 Reply
Jasbir Chatterjee 27 April 2016

very nice poem, depicts a sports person's sorrows quite well, when things are not okay...

14 2 Reply
Tom Billsborough 27 April 2016

That poor boy. We shouldn't mock the afflicted. Only 100 grand a week. No wonder he's miserable. Nice work

15 3 Reply
Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy

Glasgow / Scotland
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