With the new charity partnership between Nottingham Forest FC and Framework Housing Association, Nottingham's High Sheriff Nick Ebbs commissioned LeftLion Editor Bridie Squires to write a poem about the relationship, and how it might help our city's homeless community going forward...
Liam's missed another shift,
rang in sick, third time this week
he's caring for his mam.
He's running to the shop and back,
changing plasters, stitching wounds,
she's never been so bad.
Shards of glass fall down his throat,
and avalanches reach his lungs
when Mam takes her last breath.
Five days after death
Liam's ironing creases
out linen, folding sheets
so corners come up neat
like lines on pitch, tears on cheek.
And then he gets the sack.
Each day he loses orbs of spirit,
voice and heart; finds them slipping
further through the net.
The seventh time the bailiffs knock,
all Liam's fight is lost. They take the washer-dryer.
Liam tells 'em: “Take the sofa and the telly too.”
“The iron? I'll be needing that,” he says.
“I'll be back on my feet soon.”
But ten days later, he's relegated
to the floor, surrounded
by waves of red letters to tackle, with holes
in his boots. And then he hears the door.
This time, it's a cobbler teaching
how to mend the leather, how to get through
fallen leaves; together, they find green grass beneath.
With a dive to block, and hand outstretched,
Liam's saved from slipping
further through the net.
Soon icebergs melt in sunlight
and Liam tries to keep his head
just above the tide but, all things combined,
his ligaments have sprained, and the landlord
won't let, won't let, and now Liam,
Liam can no longer tread.
Washed up on creased sleeping bags,
Liam wakes in rims of cider cans
struggling to warm up, looking
for the tactics, he's down
and kicked. Man down and kicked,
Liam's cold and sick;
a body looking for defence,
further through the net he slips.
Liam's socks are damp with grief,
soaked in lonely, the only team
he sees is rain from sky,
until he sees the cobbler's shop sailing,
with door ajar, welcome bell,
he steps in to get dry.
They sit together with a brew
talk memories of turning leaves,
stitching patches, starting anew.
And together, they repair
punctures and holes, they inflate
and stretch, polish and keep up,
keep going, keep out the wet.
Liam finds support to stop
from slipping through the net.
The weather, it gets rough round here,
but there are people on side,
who keep goals, flood light,
stand firm, build roofs, and houses in the trees.
And like Forests through the seasons,
Liam's seen a bit of change. He knows
there's some way to go, but
together, with management,
the Framework, the stamina,
Liam's got a chance in this bet
to stop from slipping through the net.
Well done to everyone taking part in the Big Sleep Out at the City Ground's Brian Clough Stand on Saturday 24 November.
Please donate generously this winter
Framework Housing Association website