"You": a poem by Christopher Reid


You! Yes, you, small boy,
small for your age and made to look smaller
by the tennis racket you’re brandishing.

Adult-size, stoutly-timbered,  
with its gluey gut strings gone frayed and slack,
it strains and pains your immature wrist.

Yet by degrees you are mastering the knack:
whacking that bald, almost unbouncing ball
again and again against a gable-end wall.

One of the walls the war has left.
You’re back in the black-and-white nineteen-fifties.
You represent survival, pluck, and making-do.

Returning a serve, you’re your own opponent,
deliciously lost in the first excitement
of muddling personal pronouns.


This article first appeared in the 16 July 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Crisis