Joe Williams (British Working Class Poets)

Joe Williams


Joe Williams is a writer and performing poet from Leeds, UK. His latest book is The Taking Part’, a short collection of poems on the theme of sport and games, published by Maytree Press. His other work includes the pamphlet “This is Virus’, a sequence of erasure poems made from Boris Johnson’s letter to the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the verse novella ‘An Otley Run’, which was shortlisted in the Best Novella category at the 2019 Saboteur Awards. Despite all of that, he is probably most widely read thanks to his contributions to Viz.


Portugal 3, Spain 3


Knowing I’d be with you,

I’ve been practising your language,

So when he scores the penalty,

Instead of XXXX off, cheating shit,

I have something more poetic:


Que te folle un pez!

You equalise, but he scores again,

So I stand, shout at the screen,

Hijo de las mil putas!

In revenge for 2006.


When you take the lead,

I realise that I’m unprepared,

Educated only in insults, curses,

Have nothing for this, beyond

Arriba, arriba, si si si!


In the end, his hat trick

Allows me to unleash

Me cago en tu madre!

And I no longer worry, for now,


About not knowing what to say,


Or how to say it.


A Reliable History of the Marathon


Philippides invented it, in 490 BC,

Was so excited by his own idea

He immediately dropped down dead.

Never even filed a patent.

He could’ve made a fortune in royalties.


The earliest surviving account

Is by Plutarch, six hundred years later.

By then, everyone was doing it for charity,

Dressed as rhinos or tins of beans,

Recording it all on Strava.


It wasn’t till the 1896 Olympics

That people started taking it seriously.

The BBC weren’t interested,

Thought three hours was much too long.

There was only one channel then,

And no red button.

They showed the beach volleyball instead.


Later they added wheelchairs,

And eventually even women,

But the biggest change was in 1990,

When the marathon was renamed the snickers.

A lot of people are still quite upset about that.

52% of them voted to leave the IOC.


The official length of the snickers is

26 miles and 385 yards.

They say it was Edward VII

Who added the extra yards,

To get a better view of the finish line,

But that isn’t true.

You shouldn’t believe everything you’re told.



At the Bottom of Kielder Water


There are villages, they said.


Houses, and a school, a church,

And if you swam down far enough

You’d find them, could poke your head

Inside, like a goldfish in a shell.


But someone else said Bollocks,

They knocked it all down long before

They let the water in.

As if that makes a difference.


As if the ghosts of Plashetts don’t

Still float between their sodden rooms,

Backstroke to the village shop

For milk, bread, the Chronicle,

News from yet unsmothered towns

Where trout don’t pass through walls,

And not everybody knows what it’s like

To feel the water rising

Over their heads.


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