Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Pre-reading: Goalkeeper with a Cigarette

Goalkeepers are sometimes considered to be special, not only because of their position on the field, but also because of their personality. Before you begin to answer the questions below and read the poem, find videos of the following two goalkeepers René Higuita and Jose Luis Chilavert.

  • How many goalkeepers are you able to mention in the space of three minutes?
  • Which qualities does a goalkeeper need to have?
  • How is he different from other players?
  • Would you consider a goalkeeper an outsider? What is an outsider? How do you become an outsider? Is it positive, or negative?
Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Simon Armitage: Goalkeeper with a Cigarette

Speak and text - full length

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Speak and text - 1 of 5

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

That's him in the green, green cotton jersey,

prince of the clean sheets – some upright insect

boxed between the sticks, the horizontal

and the pitch, stood with something up his sleeve,

armed with a pouch of tobacco and skins

to roll his own, or else a silver tin

containing eight or nine already rolled.

That's him with one behind his ear, between

his lips, or one tucked out of sight and lit -

a stamen cupped in the bud of his fist.

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Speak and text - 2 of 5

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

That's him sat down, not like those other clowns,

performing acrobatics on the bar, or press-ups

in the box, or running on the spot,

togged out in turtleneck pyjama-suits

with hands as stunted as a bunch of thumbs,

hands that are bandaged or swaddled with gloves,

laughable, frying-pan, sausage-man gloves.

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Speak and text - 3 of 5

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Not my man, though, that's not what my man does;

a man who stubs his reefers on the post

and kicks his heels in the stud-marks and butts,

lighting the next from the last, in one breath

making the save of the year with his legs,

taking back a deep drag on the goal-line

in the next; on the one hand throwing out

or snaffling the ball from a high corner,

flicking off loose ash with the other. Or

in the freezing cold with both teams snorting

like flogged horses, with captains and coaches

effing and jeffing at backs and forwards,

talking steam, screaming exhausting orders,

that's not breath coming from my bloke, it's smoke.

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Speak and text - 4 of 5

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Not him either goading the terraces,

baring his arse to the visitors' end

and dodging the sharpened ten-pence pieces,

playing up, picking a fight, but that's him

cadging a light from the ambulance men,

loosing off smoke rings, zeros or halos

that drift off, passively, over the goals

into nobody's face, up nobody's nose.

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Speak and text - 5 of 5

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

He is what he is, does whatever suits him,

because he has no highfalutin song

to sing, no neat message for the nation

on the theme of genius or dedication;

in his passport, under 'occupation',

no one forced the man to print the word

'custodian', and in The Faber Book

of Handy Hints his five-line entry reads:

'You young pretenders, keepers of the nought,

the nish, defenders of the sweet fuck-all,

think bigger than your pockets, profiles, health;

better by half to take a sideways view,

take a tip from me and deface yourselves.'

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking


Vís í nýggjum vindeyga
Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Task 2.7.1

Study questions

  • Give each stanza a headline
  • Which impression do you get of the goalkeeper in the first stanza? Why is he called both a prince and an insect?
  • How are the other goalkeepers described in stanza 2? Which words point in a negative direction?
  • What is it that makes the goalkeeper stand apart from the rest in stanza 3? How would you describe his attitude?
  • In your opinion why doesn’t the goalkeeper interact with the spectators? Contrast his behavior in stanza 3 and 4?
  • How would you describe his attitude to his job and his fame?
  • What do you think of his Handy Hint “Think bigger than your pockets, profiles, health” – is that a good piece of advice? Does it match the impression you get of him during the poem?
  • Which terms belonging to the semantic spheres of football, smoking and poetry can you find in the text?
  • Why do you think the poet Simon Armitage has decided to connect a goalkeeper with smoking?
  • Is the goalkeeper ridiculous or cool?
  • Discuss why Simon Armitage is interested in the goalkeeper as opposed to other players.
  • If there is a message in the poem, what do you think it is? Spend a few minutes writing down your thoughts and ideas, then pool them with the people sitting next to you, and see if you agree on something.
  • Find examples of figurative language. Rhyme, alliteration, &c
Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Talk about it

  • Today, many football players and other sports stars are also media celebrities, and consequently they are often asked questions about issues which don’t relate to their sport. The goalkeeper in the poem seems to object to this in the last stanza – do you agree with his point of view?
  • In your opinion, why are the public apparently more interested in hearing the views of sports stars rather than poets? In that connection, try to mention as many poets as you can.
  • Does the German goalkeeper Bert Trautmann from the text "A life less ordinary" have anything in common with the goalkeeper described in this poem?
Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Write about it/Record your own news segment

Interview the goalkeeper from the poem. You decide whether it is for a radio show, a report for television or an article in a newspaper or a magazine. Hence, you must also decide whether the interview is to be filmed, taped or written down.

Think about what questions the journalist would ask the goalkeeper and what he would answer. It would for example be interesting to consider whether the goalkeeper would be happy to participate. Does he give lengthy answers to every question the journalist has? Is he willing to answer questions that do not directly relate to football, for example about his family or his income? Or does he only reluctantly answer some of the questions? How does he answer the questions? You could consider whether he is ironic, straightforward, open, honest, hostile or something completely different.

Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking



n troyggja

clean sheet

reint mál, tað merkir, at eingin hevur skorað ímóti honum


n vøllur

something up his sleeve

onkrum í bakhondini


[de'face] s oyðileggja

take a sideways view

hugsa øðrvísi

pouch of tobacco

[pouch of to'bacco] n tubbakspungur

the sweet fuck-all

ikki ein fanans lort


n sigarettpappír


n einki


n dós


n sáberi


sb knubbi

sat down

her: settur


[pre'tender] n hyklari

Handy Hints

hent ráð

togged out

s ílætin, pyntaður


Faber & Faber er eitt bretskt forlag


n rullikragi


[cu'stodian] n málmaður


[occu'pation] n starv


l kryplaður


s balla, sveipa


[dedi'cation] n samvitskusemi


n steikipanna


[highfa'lutin] l hátíðarligur, stórorðaður

sausage-man gloves

n grillhandskar


n glæma


s sløkkja, klípa glóðina av

ambulance man

n fyrstuhjálpari


n marijuanasigarett

kicks his heels

(her) trampa


s biðja um


n spor frá fótbóltsskógvunum

play up

s arga


n sigarettstubbi


s snúgva sær undan


n standipláss, her: áskoðarar


s øsa


n áleypari

effing and jeffing

banna og blóta


n venjari


n liðskipari

the next

næsta sigarettin


l fleingja


n guvur


s froysa


s nápa, taka


n verji

ISBN: 9788761657954. © Rithøvundarnir, Systime A/S og Nám 2011