Twin Poems ( On Football) Translation


My father adores football. I grew up seeing him scream , “Goaaallll….” with an uncommon passion, as he watched all the great football matches around the globe in his home television. The other family members merely rolled their eyes while this recurrent phenomenon usually rang out  around midnight and continued late into the early hours.

I am a mere curious onlooker- whose attention is caught more by facts than anything else.

So, when I read the twin poems on football in my Mother tongue- the Kerala proclivity for football is as legendary as that of West Bengal- I could not help delving deeper, and translating them. It gets curious and curiouser, as  Lewis Carroll would have put it, when names and countries take on a whole new manoeuvre in the feet, cough, hands of an adept word-player. It is a beautiful game, after all.

Irratta Kavithakal ( P.N.Gopikrishnan)/ Twin Poems

( Mathrubhumi Weekly, Nov 22-28, 2015)

Translated from Malayalam


2010 July 11

It was the final of 2010, between Spain and Holland

The last football game

Which took possession of us.

It was

Not a ball.

A nightmare coloured in

Eighteen shades.

A human head-

A woman,

From the Dutch half.

A man,

From  the Spanish half.

From the referee’s perspective,

The head changed betwixt

Those of children

And transgenders.

The black wizard of that night

Was Arjen Robben.

He was -speed.

He was- bullet.

He was also- the gun.

Our issue was not his form.

His name- (pronounced) Aryan.

If Hitler were a player,

He would have played like that.


That brute force would lead


Getting up  bristling, from pain, wounds,

Even as in a cartoon-

But never turning

Into one.

We called out

To the forgotten Gods.

To the sculptors of our


They were helpless.

That gave us no option

But to turn poets.

We started writing

In Capdevilla, In David Villa

In Ramos

Finally in Iniesta

The  tiki- taka of poetry,

We kept on writing.

In that moment-

When poetry overtook brute force –

Arjen made a mistake.

The mistake of a century.

( Poet’s Note * The  Jo’bulani ball used for the World Cup had eleven colours)



28, September 2015

In India , Hitler will not

Play football.

Because, it is merely a game

Of ninety minutes.

It is just an affair of five days.

So, in India, where the game

Has to be played for epochs,

Hitler does not appear

As a bearded Arjen Robben,

But as a mob.

The mob is not just a mob.

Crores of heads,

Twice that many hands,

Twenty times more claws,

Thirty two times fangs-

A murderous creature.

It moves stealthily,

But acts very quickly.

When a country splits into two

To play a final,

When the players change sides often

When the referee changes sides too,


Will be forced to turn poets

Yet again.

Not the goal seeking

Striker poets

Who try to score

With four lines at a time.

But  those who slip backwards,

Guarding the net of the future-

The Goal keeper poets.