He’s in a bear suit, below a yellow ochre sky,
inured to the winds’ crossfire.
He’s up and running. (4.3 miles, on average, match nights.)
He takes lolloping strides, waves his paws back and forth,
mirroring the supporters in the stands,
listens to both friendly banter and swearing.
He’ll pose for photographs with fans,
but refuses to be taken with the bear head removed.
Outside the suit he is another man.
Weekdays, he’s behind the counter
of his hardware store. His exertions in the workshop
have left his fingers like clawhammers.
He’s happiest alone, swishing leaves
in the grounds of Stormont, or at home
playing on his PC, Football Manager 2014.
And when his lung collapsed - it was touch and go -
not many from the club brought him grapes.
Another bear-suited man took over, but
few noticed that signature moves were missing.
Even so, the retiree’s lips are dry on Saturday afternoons,
as he anticipates the blow of the whistle, the roar.