The Croquet Widower (poem)

Rod Mackay - Issue 29 (2011)

She left me all day looking after the dog 
but being on nights, I slept like a log. 
Had to mop up the wet patch on rising at one - 
The dog is quite lucky I don't have a gun! 

I'm a martyr to croquet, the game played by kings; 
well, by Prescott at least, it's near the same thing. 
A civilised sport, where the winner buys tea 
and each player must act as his own referee. 

Outsiders and journalists both tend to scoff 
about vicars and Chequers and blazer-clad toffs, 
and cads and young ladies at skullduggery 
after hitting their balls to the far shrubbery. 

It's really not like that, it's quite a good game, 
not tainted by boot money, betting or fame: 
but there's one thing that stops it from being sublime -
it's the fact that it takes such a bloody long time! 

You each have two balls to get through six hoops, 
going one way to start, then back round in a loop, 
then each of them must hit a stout wooden peg 
which is set in the middle, half as thick as your leg. 

You play it in breaks, bit like snooker on grass, 
till you make a mistake, then the innings will pass 
to your oppo, then you must go back and sit "out" 
and try not to nod off, in case there's a shout 

of "ANKLES!" which means a ball bound your way 
and you jump, or to Casualty hobble away, 
as the balls are rock hard and roll like the wind 
and could easily fracture an incautious shin. 

You play with a mallet, a work of real craft; 
lignum vitae the head, and a fine carbon shaft, 
but the knack is in tactical thinking, and I 
can't think like a winner, however I try. 

We once played a doubles that lasted six hours - 
got my eye in by then and the victory was ours - 
but Lord we were stiff, and as cold as the grave. 
If we played tiddlywinks, just think what we'd save! 

The Missus has just passed her Grade 1 Coach course 
with me stuck at home with the doggy, of course, 
for three dismal days, but I fear, from now on, 
she'll tell me why each stroke I played was all wrong! 

Her handicap's ten which is better than mine 
(no, no, really, I don't, I think that's just fine) 
but she wants now, to get right down to scratch, 
as our lad's minus one, which is something to match. 

Her plan is "more tournaments - get some real play,” 
and every one lasts for - oooh - one or two days. 
She says she'll be happy when I can retire, 
but I’m hoping that's not till the dog has expired! 

So roll on a good croquet club, with a bar - 
ours only has a small lock-up, so far - 
where I’ll sit at my leisure and watch as my wife 
does jump-shots and cannons and triples for life, 

And nod off in the sunshine, till one day no doubt, 
I too, though an 18 with gout, will "peg out".


Rod Mackay (Dyffryn), originally written for his railway signallers’ forum during a quiet night shift