Review: Obrigado – A Futebol Epic by David Kilpatrick

If you wanted to look back on the events of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil you might check out the internet, look at some video highlights, read some articles on-line or maybe lookup some of the books written about the tournament.

How many of you though would have thought of poetry as a source of reflecting on the world’s biggest sporting spectacle? Presumably not many. However, that it exactly what David Kilpatrick has done in Obrigado – A Futebol Epic.

As a form poetry allows the writer a great deal of freedom, so for instance some examples have a strict rhythm and meter, whilst others are more abstract in structure. However, unlike longer forms of writing, such as novels, poetry is generally smaller and demands that words have to work harder and therefore have a greater intensity in order to impart their meaning and imagery.

Kilpatrick details this collection as, “64 games (total played in the tournament), 32 teams (total participating in the tournament), 30 days (duration of the tournament), 65 poems (a poem for each game played plus an introductory poem), 1 epic”.

The interesting term to note in Kilpatrick’s summary is “epic”, in that the definition of the term as classic or grand, could be applied to the tournament as a whole. However, there can also be another interpretation in that it refers to Kilpatrick’s collection as a homage to Greek epic poetry.

Indeed this idea is reinforced within the opening poem “I. Futebologia: Towards a poetics of sport”. Here Kilpatrick presents a poem which references the Roman poet Martial, the Greek writer Pausanias and in deference to Aristotle’s elements of poetry, contains the line:

Muthos, ethos, dianoia, lexis, melos, opsis

The poems that follow are an offering to the football gods, a thank you (obrigado in Portuguese) for the games, its players and the tournament as a whole. Within each one the key incidents and results are referred to in a creative manner, but Kilpatrick is also not afraid to express his opinions with in particular hosts Brazil and its players coming in for his displeasure.

Within “II. Brazil v Croatia”, Brazilian golden boy Neymar is dubbed “The Hyped One”, whilst fellow forward Fred is chastised for a dive in the following lines:

And then one ugly moment

Halts beauty’s heritage

The cynical, the crass, the dishonest

A dive, a disgrace, as Fred flops

Brazil’s ignominy is completed by Kilpatrick’s damning words following their 7-1 defeat to Germany in “LXII. Brazil v Germany”:

The gods of futebol exact bitter revenge

For Brasil’s betrayal of jogo bonito

As a review of the World Cup it is certainly different, but like all good poetry makes you want to go back and read it again so that all the nuances of the words can be explored.

Brazil 2014 will be remembered as a great World Cup and this collection of poems should please the football gods too.


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Posted January 20, 2016 by Editor in category "Reviews

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