Peterloo Poets

Poetry Publishers 1972 - 2009





The Game: Tennis Poems



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Poems by William Scammell


The poetry of tennis, its triumphs and disasters, has never been better captured than in this delightfully original and funny tour of the game by an author who has played tennis at club (and occasionally county) level for many years. From Hampton Court to Wimbledon, from legendary finals to knocking about in the park, from junior coaching to the perfectionist tantrums of McEnroe, every aspect of the game is lovingly explored. All the tennis greats are here, from Henry VIII to Andre Agassi. So are many famous poets – Marvell, Donne, Tennyson, MacNeice, Betjeman, even McGonagall – whose voices are borrowed in celebration of  Suzanne Lenglen and Big Bill Tilden, Hoad and Bueno, Connors and Ashe, Goolagong and Wade, Borg and Mc Enroe, Becker and Graf, and many more. William Scammell’s love of the sport of kings, paupers, writers, and its protagonists’ all-too-human frailties sparkles on every page. The volume includes 16 black and white photographs of famous tennis players.

William Scammell has had four previous volumes of poems published by Peterloo Poets. In 1989 he won the 2,000 1st prize in the National Poetry Competition. He has been a Poetry Book Society selector and has reviewed poetry for the Spectator and Independent on Sunday.

‘Scammell is the luck any small publisher deserves.’
John Lucas, New Statesman


John McEnroe

All Britain’s deepest fears about spoilt brats
were thrillingly confirmed. You were THE PITS
John, an expression new to us. We heard
it as a ripe four-letter word
you’d dropped, splat! On the hallowed umpire’s head.
At Wimbledon! Oh boy, but you were bad!
The nation’s right arm ached, was overcome
with transcendental lust to smack your bum.
And Irish, too . . . That baked-potato face,
that fallen-cherub frizz, that verbal mace
you sprayed at linesmen, paparazzi, an-
yone who’d got the gall to get their act between
your eye, the ball, your will, the clean
unanswerable line of pure perfection.

Stuffed shirts, stuffed balls, stuffed amateurs,
stuffed Royal Box, stuffed Chelsea Pensioners,
stuffed accents – Pleeeaay! – stuffed calls, stuffed sniggers, stuff
they know to handle Brooklyn way. Hang Tough.


Price 7.00 per copy post free (4.65 post free to Associate Members)
Cover photograph: ‘Suzanne Lenglen’ © The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.
Publication: JUNE 1992 (48 pages laminated paperback)