New verse from Syrian-New Zealand poet and high schooler Mohamed Al Mansour.
In Lebanon I had a big football team,
twenty-three players and two captains.
My two best friends in the team
were Ali Ahmad and Mohamed.
Ali Ahmad is fast and Mohamed is tall.
We played in the same place every time.
The ground is surrounded by small stands.
It is green and dry, sometimes clean, sometimes dirty.
You can hear the whitle, the ball hitting the head,
the crowd clapping and chanting, ‘Yella!’
Some friends got angry when they lost the ball
and some kept calm and never gave up.
When I lost the ball, I fixed what I did.
In 2014 the World Cup semi-final
was between Germany and Brazil.
We watched it on TV in a café.
Some people smoked shisha
and some people drank juice.
Most people were with Germany,
but I was always with Brazil.
When Brazil lost, 1–7,
some of the people burnt the flag
in the café and in the street,
and some of the other people cried.
I didn’t sleep until the morning.
It was the best football day
in my life.
From More of Us, edited by Adrienne Jansen, with Clare Arnot, Danushka Devinda and Wesley Hollis (Landing Press, 2019)
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.