I am there now. I see the town
St Leonard’s across the Inch
prison walls threaten behind me.
They don’t hold me back. I am born.
I’m free to think, to play the game.
I can feel the grass. I can hear seagulls
circling, mocking us. We, this odd bunch of men
in shorts. Students of football.
The cricket bats in a bag, in a shed
for another day, for another team.
For now, I am St. Johnstone.
I am born to reach over the Inch
to run through city veins
to bubble up through the mouths of grafters.
I was uncertain of everything – rules, tactics
the opposition’s efforts matching mine – unsettling
the stumbling steps of my new found stride
but my mind was sure of this –
defeat would not kill me.
It would feed me. I was born St. Johnstone
a living thing, growing beyond your quickening lives.
My blood would spill, to run through foreign fields –
for King and Country they said. I left myself there
but returned in broken parts to be born again.
I am St Johnstone – I would breath again
because you would breath with me.
I am there now. I can see the Stand, the Ice Rink
the barriers, the Ormond boys.
The signal letters – DRYBURGHS – rippling across the corrugation.
Defiant. Bold. Brainwashing, across city roofs
through the smoke of industry, calling to the loyal
the curious, the rich men, poor men, big men, wee men
fair maids, old maids and the etceteras
who pumped their blood into me and we ran together.
We stood up together and became more than our yesterdays.
I am St. Johnstone. I live beyond your narrow days.
Then he found me in the slump. Not dead but tired
bruised, where the juice had been sucked
from my bones. He lifted me up, nurtured me
took me to green fields, built me a home.
I am there now. In the four Stands, the Suites
the weave of tartan. I am the grass, the cotton
the blue, the white, the zipped up effort of youth.
Its brittle edge and fiery stew of energy
where my tomorrows will be born.
The seagulls circle but no longer mock.
I bristle with possibilities. I am St. Johnstone.
I am St Johnstone until I die
but why should I care of death when I am re-born every day?
I am the smudge on the polished curve of the Scottish Cup.
I was born again between the outstretched hands of my Captain
and the banners tied to an open top bus.
I’ve spun the roulette wheel in Monaco.
I walked to the edge of the Arctic Circle.
I dipped my toe in glacial waters by alpine shores.
I reach the far side of this earth, secure in hearts.
Every day, I am St. Johnstone.
I am there now. In the shop window
and the bar shelf to the right of the optics.
I am in the queue – at the checkout, at the bus stop
on the tree lined road to the next departure
from the Crematorium. I’m all the Lotto Numbers.
I’m the spare peg in the Dressing Room.
I’m every blade of grass.
I’m the first goal, the last point, the air in the nets
the corner flag flutter of every game
the reach of every word in every column inch. I am there now.
I am the echo of studs in the tunnel, and the last floodlight fading.
I am St Johnstone. I’m in the checked in holiday baggage.
I’m on Sugar Loaf, Table Top, and every postcard sent home.
I’m on the walk down from Letham, the bus up from Muirton.
I’m in the sparkle of early arrivals, the slump of early leavers.
I’m the burst of East Stand opinions, the lift of song
the bounce of bare chested Unity. I am all those beating hearts.
I’m players not yet Legend, dreams not imagined, adventures not planned.
I’m manifest destiny.
I will breath tomorrow if you will breath with me – forever
I am St. Johnstone.