Carol Ann Duffy has composed a poem in honor of the female football players of England.
The first and currently sole female poet laureate of the UK has composed a sonnet in tribute to the England Lionesses and a sport she has cherished since childhood.
Carol Ann Duffy, who said she grew up in a “footballing family”, pays homage to the trailblazers behind today’s squad in We See You, a poem described as a “team talk” to the nation.
Duffy, who served as poet laureate from 2009 to 2019, described it as a tribute to all women who excel in various fields, from sports to corporate leadership, as well as those who work at the grassroots level to promote equality.
The verse was written for the WeSeeYou Network, an organization that recognizes and supports women in soccer by providing guidance, education, and connections in the sports industry. The network was created by Three, a mobile phone company, and Chelsea Football Club.
Duffy said: “I grew up in a footballing family. I had four brothers who all played in local teams and a dad who was a gifted an amateur. When we moved to England [from Glasgow] when I was about five, he managed the local team which was called Stafford Town. My mum used to wash all the strips and put them through the mangle. Football was ever present in my life growing up.”
The poem applauds the recent accomplishments of the national women’s team and their legacy as trailblazers.
She honors Mary Phillip, the initial African-American to lead an England women’s national team and currently coaches and oversees a men’s team.
One of the individuals being recognized is Pat Dunn, who was among the initial female football referees and had to struggle for the right to officiate men’s games. Duffy’s poem states, “Misogyny is penalized with a red card. A free kick is currently in progress. We are all supporting.” Dunn passed away in 1999.
The sonnet mentions Eni Aluko, a trailblazing figure in football who has stood up against sexism, racism, and misogyny towards women. It concludes with a pledge to the amazing 10-year-old “girl with ball” of today that she will be discovered.
Duffy expressed how the Lionesses bring happiness and inspiration, especially for young girls who now have confidence in their abilities. It’s important to remember that women’s football was prohibited by the FA for 50 years, making the Lionesses’ victory at the Euros even more remarkable as they were starting at a disadvantage.
According to Zarah Al-Kudcy, the commercial director for Chelsea FC’s women’s team, Duffy’s poem served as the perfect team talk. Al-Kudcy also praised the WeSeeYou project for its support and recognition of women’s contributions in the sports community. She described it as a fantastic platform.
Duffy expressed her desire for the project to discover gifted young girls from underprivileged backgrounds who could be fostered to reach their potential as exceptional players. She believes that the game is rightfully called “beautiful” and is a joy to witness.
One of her football poems, titled “Liverpool,” focuses on the tragic events of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and the ongoing efforts of the families of the 97 victims to seek justice and uncover the truth.
In 2010, the author penned Achilles (for David Beckham) in response to the athlete’s injury, which prevented him from participating in the 2010 World Cup. The poem was written as a gesture of sympathy for Beckham’s situation and to draw a parallel with the legendary figure of Achilles, whose name inspired Beckham’s injury, she explained at the time.
Duffy, aged 67, became a fan of Liverpool FC while studying in the city and attending matches at Anfield. Although she now primarily watches football on TV, she recently witnessed Chelsea’s women’s team defeat Liverpool 5-1 at Stamford Bridge.
As the poet laureate, Duffy also addressed topics such as the MPs’ expenses scandal, climate change, the banking crisis, the war in Afghanistan, and individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.
During her formative years, she resided in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. In 2015, she received the title of dame for her contributions to poetry. In the 1980s, she briefly worked as a poetry critic for the Guardian.
We See You – by Carol Ann Duffy
The heavy leather ball that your left foot struck a hundred years ago in the rain.
has reached us here, and so we see you, Lily Parr,
Upon reflection, the additional period of time is connected to the lineage of women in our family.
of passing forwards … to Mary Phillip, first black Captain
Katie Chapman, Carly Telford, Millie Bright are members of the Pride.
We also noticed you, Pat Dunn – you sounded your whistle.
The women referees began the game. A red card was given for sexism.
Reword: Progress is being given a free opportunity. We are all in agreement. The team lineups represent the aspirations of joy.
Managers often reminisce about the successful period under Emma Hayes, which brought attention to our team.
to thirty, forty, fifty thousand fans … so good, so good, so good …
From the grassroots team to the League, to Euros, and finally to the World. Currently.
The poetry of play is narrated by the voices of Eni Aluko and Karen Carney, representing women in the sport.
We will locate you – a 10-year-old girl with a ball, it is amazing to be you.
This is our Team Talk: We fully support you and we acknowledge your efforts.