Poem Sampler

Football Poems

Celebrate the sport with the best pigskin poetry.
By The Editors

It’s football season. Time to toss the ball around in the backyard, tailgate, and head down to the big game. Whether you're a high school, college, or an NFL fan, these poems will help you get ready for the season.


First Down: School Days
Poems about street games, high school hijinks, and poets among players.

Wide Receiver” by Mark Halliday

In the huddle you said “Go long—get open”
and at the snap I took off along the right sideline
and then cut across left in a long arc

After School, Street Football, Eighth Grade” by Dennis Cooper

friends and I would watch them
from my porch, books of poems
lost in our laps

Olives” by Donald Hall

intoning inscrutable stanzas   
as halfbacks and tackles   
made out, Friday nights after football

Evening Practice” by D. Nurkse

The ball flew up toward day
and landed in night.


Second Down: Small Town, Big Game
The whole town heads down to the stadium to sit beneath the Friday night lights.  

Neighbors in October” by David Baker

Down the block we bend with the season:
shoes to polish for a big game,
storm windows to batten or patch.

Why I Might Go to the Next Football Game” by Denis Johnson

                                        i thought
that i would make a fine football-playing   
poet, but now i know

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio” by James Wright

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.

Football Weather” by Paul Carroll
                       Even practice could be fun—
                   The way, say, even sepia photgraphs of old-time
                       All Americans could be pirates' gold


Third Down: Coaches and Players
Poems of short-lived stars, living legends, and a quarterback’s surreal stream of consciousness.


Football” by Louis Jenkins                                                                               

                                                One has certain responsibilities,
one has to make choices. This isn’t right and I'm not going
to throw it.

football dreams” by Jacqueline Woodson

No one was faster
than my father on the football field.

Watching Football on TV” by Howard Nemerov

They have Immortals in a Hall of Fame,
They have the stories of the tribe, the plays
And instant replays many times replayed.

Prison Chaplain” by Timothy Murphy

our high school quarterback become a clerk—

in the high sense.

Dew” by David Musgrave 

Half their lives are spent in clouds
         of condensation or the cold heat 

The Ditch” by Michael Ryan

Any minute—no guessing what might trigger it—
he could be butting your face mask and barking up your nostrils

A Mad Fight Song for William S. Carpenter, 1966” by James Wright

When I woke, I found myself crying out   
Latin conjugations, and the new snow falling   
At the edge of a green field.


Poetry and football come together in three surprising ways.

Arkansas Football Recruit Pens a Poem

New Arkansas Razorback linebacker Vin Ascolese pens a poem called “The Razorback” for his team.

At Long Last, the Marriage of Fantasy Football and Poetry

Over at Culture Bully, Judy Mills muses and amuses on an all-poetry fantasy football team. 

Tailgating with Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti’s renewed love for the San Francisco 49ers.

Originally Published: September 4th, 2012
  1. September 15, 2012
     Roxanne Ivey

    I'm partial toward "The Bee" by James Dickey, because it addresses a fictionalized version of my grandfather, Coach Rock Norman. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem...