He accused me of kicking him
on purpose, said
I was bang out of order.
Clearly he thinks his reputation
precludes him from being tackled
by the likes of me.

But if he thinks he’s going to ponce
down the wing and show me up
he’s in the wrong game.
I did not kick him deliberately,
but next time I will.

I do not believe in
displaying my emotions in public.
Nor do I trust great gushes,
outpourings of grief provoked
by the death of someone
only known through fame.

And yet I can feel a pressure
to join in, a feeling
I am different
because I do not put
my emotions on display.

And so my thoughts turn to myself
as a boy with a football,
playing keepy-uppy on my own
in the sports field
behind our house.

There is a simple pleasure
and satisfaction in aloneness.
I am neither biased
nor discriminatory
for my problem is with
the whole human race.


36 Responses to “Keepy-Uppy”

  1. Wow! What an absolutely fabulous poem.

    I just love where this begins with its inclusion of humour and the humerous side of your personality, and then where it goes, far beyond where I imagined it was going, to the inclusion of a more serious side of you which you have invited us to share.

    “And yet I can feel a pressure to join in” – what a great line and one I can relate to so much.

    And your last two lines sum up the whole poem wonderfully – along with the title 🙂

    Just wonderful David

    Love you loads


    xxx x

    • Thank you Christine,

      This poem began life in a poetry workshop and has been through a number of incarnations to arrive at where it is now.

      I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process of making it work. 🙂

      But now I need to buy myself another football!!! 🙂

      Love you loads

      xxx x

  2. I am neither biased
    nor discriminatory
    for my problem is with
    the whole human race.

    —Same here! 🙂

    Love it!


  3. Hi David

    This is a very good poem. I needed to read thouroughly. At first I thought you had been in a fight. 🙂 Then I thought it was the football who was complaining 🙂

    You do show something about yourself here. In public 🙂

    Keepy uppy, I suppose that means doing that thing with the knee to keep a football in the air? A man’s thing I think. 🙂

    Showing your feelings in public, sometimes we are not aware we do that. Tears can just pop up. I always hate it when it happens to me, but there is nothing wrong with it. If you feel better not showing too much of yourself, I don’t think that is wrong either. I admire people who can keep a straight face!

    People who mourn the famous with so much display, I am never sure what that means. Maybe they just have a big caring heart, or maybe I al not sensitive enough lol.

    This aloneless, I saw the word first time in a poem by Ethel I think, and it is intruiging. It doesn’t mean lonelyness, it means being more happy on your own than with others. Now I know that feeling of wanting to be alone, but it also came from negativeness, or me not being able to be social. As an only child, I was not always keen on playing with others. I thought it was a bad thing really and it made me feel guilty. I remember having a panic attack in the bedroom of a gf who had all kinds of teddy bears and pink dollies in her room. I just couldn’t breathe and ran home, decided playing with others was not my thing. 🙂

    Now I am in the stage where I am over this wanting to be alone, enjoying the company of friends (not all the time of course) and now I find this feeling I had is a more common thing than I ever knew. And not that bad 🙂

    I hope the whole human race you have a problem with doesn’t include all members of the whole human race 🙂 I enjoyed your company btw. 🙂

    Sorry for being a bit long here 🙂

    Arohanui 🙂



    • Ah Ina,

      The dichotomy inherent in this poem is that while it says I do not display my emotions in public it is, at the same time, exposing part of me in public! 🙂 Poetry can do that!!

      ‘Aloneness’ for me is a positive word – sometimes we all need to be alone. and I needed to learn to be comfortable in that ‘aloneness’.

      And I think it likely we have all experienced what you describe – but as a child we find it very difficult to understand. Nowadays I appreciate good friends and their company but I do also welcome my own company. Sometimes the company of others (even good friends) can be tiring and I need space to recuperate. 🙂

      And you are right there are members of the human race whom I love dearly so I guess they are not included in the ‘whole’.
      I thoroughly enjoyed your company too. 🙂


      • 🙂 I am relieved to hear you are not at war with the whole world 🙂

        Being with someone in rl is quite different than chatting online, where we can always correct ourselves before pushing the enter button, so it is always a gamble I suppose lol. 🙂

        Arohanui 🙂

      • Ah, not so much at war with the whole world Ina, more despairing of it sometimes. 🙂



  4. …”maybe I al not sensitive enough” should be ” maybe I am not sensitive enough”

  5. A most engaging poem I can well identify with. We get prima donnas in football as well as in life who need reality checks. We used to play footy with coal in the pit town I grew up in (:

  6. ha! yes that last line.. a very god work David..

  7. “but next time I will” – I particularly liked the placing of this line.

  8. This is very enjoyable – as ever. You had me intrigued with that title, David, and I love the way it seems to suggest at least a couple of different meanings. (Perhaps even more than I spotted!)

    • Thank you John,

      This poem was challenging (but fun) to write I think as it meanders back and forward through stages of my life.

      I played with a number of different titles but in the end ‘Keepy-Uppy’ was just too good to resist 🙂


  9. Hi David,

    🙂 It’s wonderful to see this poem finally in your blog! I still think it is a most wonderful poem and so well crafted, highlighting a lot of feelings and circumstance that many can relate to.

    I do like your humour in this poem especially in the lines
    “I did not kick him deliberately,
    but next time I will.”

    :-)…There have been times I’ve thought along similar lines.

    I also like the way you subtly draw the reader to consider what lies behind that humour. The scene you describe is at least to myself very vivid.
    I think your revelation of self is just enough. Sometimes we can reveal too much and leave nothing sacred. Sometimes in the opening up we allow others to see reflections of themselves and that reminds us we’re not so different and the feelings and experainces we’ve had have much in common with others.
    On an issue like contetment in one’s own company I think that’s a good thing. 🙂
    Society is ever pushing us to be social and fit in with everyone discounting variances in personality and pointing its own fingers of discrimmination at those who won’t act, live etc. like the majority.
    As an introvert who likes my own space from time to time, this is a poem I very much appreciate!

    Thank you very much for sharing this poem. 🙂

    and K’sOTC 🙂

    • Hi Tikarma,

      As you know I was going to enter this poem in a poetry competition. But that would have meant I couldn’t post it on here until after the adjudication.
      And I decided it was too good a poem to waste like that. (Or, possibly, I am just impatient!!! 🙂 )

      I will be sure not to tell anyone your secret – that at times you have felt like kicking someone!!! *Grin*

      I did not set out with the poem to expose part of myself. But then poems, like paintings, quite often take on a life of their own!! 🙂

      I do worry sometimes as I watch the invasion into peoples lives of electronic devices and the way they somehow take over so there is a constant pressure to ‘be in touch’!!!
      When I walk on Whitby Pier my phone is switched off!!!

      I like your description “an introvert who likes my own space from time to time”. I can very much relate to that. 🙂

      Thank you too for your feedback on an earlier version of this poem.

      I do hope your week is going well

      and K’sOTC 🙂

  10. You sound sometimes like Ethel, David. She loves aloneness too, and aloneness to her means something different from loneliness. I am pretty sure she has never played football (soccer), but this poem made me smile. I think the two of you would get along well with each other, and I, mostly, get along with most people. I think I’d probably get along with you too. Her problem too “is with
    the whole human race.”
    There is much that I relate to in this poem. The accidental kicking, the response when the other player gets all bullish about what was, after all, an accident, the feeling that you really should not show your emotions in public–especially if they have no relationship inside heart and spirit, and the feeling to get along by going along, leading to the conclusion that the best game is the game a young child plays alone…
    I should prefer to have some boy bend them (birches)
    As he went out and in to fetch the cows–
    Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
    Whose only play was what he found himself,
    Summer or winter, and could play alone.
    Robert Frost wrote, and then went on to give his idea of heaven and existence growing out of what you, and Ethel, would call, beautifully, wonderfully, aloneness.

    • Thomas,

      You pay me a wonderful compliment. Thank you
      I too think I would get along well with Ethel and with yourself.

      I haven’t played ‘Keepy-Uppy’ in a long time.
      In fact, nowadays I don’t even own a football (soccer ball) but I am very tempted to go out and buy one.

      I wasn’t sure how this poem would play in America but your comment greatly re-assures me. 🙂

      Now I am going to look up the poem by Robert Frost that you have quoted from. It does seem like my sort of poem. 🙂

      My very best to you both


  11. can’t get to know yourself if you can’t hear yourself think 🙂 i think wisdom is with the man who understands the beat of his own rhythm as the backup chorus for the rest of mankind. that beat does not disolve into the rest, but supports its own necessity in the scheme of resolved destiny.

    David good. smart make lines, show other man not cross line. mean man just hit ….not show. not care. not hurt for others. David good….show others hope know inside smile strong –big hope wide as doubt.

    fyi that second paragraph took 3 times longer to write. lol

  12. The more I read you, the more I like you.. I love your sense of humor,and your sense of self!! This was like reading a small fraction of your life, and I loved it!! Big Hugs,and smiles!!

  13. Kick the stuffings out of that one, David! Sometimes, we include ourselves in that “whole human race” group we are angry with, right?

  14. Anna Mark Says:

    I often feel like I’m in a “game” where everyone knows the rules but me, where everyone has it right but me…this poem captures that feeling and the desire, then, to be alone.

    • I know that feeling well Anna – of being on the outside looking in and not knowing how to join.

      Part of my move towards alcoholism was almost certainly fuelled by that!!

      Thank you for sharing it


  15. I had to smile knowingly the entire time reading this poem. Different is good. Different is blessed. Although, it may not seem like it. I rather like marching to the beat of a different drummer. I enjoyed the clarity and insight into this piece.

  16. The pleasure of aloneness – what a priceless commodity, yet so undervalued in our extrovert-orientated society. For me it was (and still is) riding my bike, rather than playing keepy-uppy, but I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about here. And I love it. N.

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