The Ballad of Mo Salah 17/18, by Michael Signorelli

Illustration by Michael Mankowski

By Michael Signorelli

 

Over the course of the World Cup, Howler will feature a different writer each day reflecting on the action, their own experience, or just offering a consideration of what they’ve seen and felt so far. We continue today with our first poem, a ballad by Michael Signorelli.

 

The Ballad of Mo Salah 17/18

Let me tell you of a player

To thrill the beating heart

A man named Mo from Egypt

Whose finish betrayed his start.

 

We met him once at Chelsea

But he was only passing through

He spent some time in Italy

As young men are wont to do.

 

His return was never likely

To the league he’d left before

But when he suited up in Red

He ended up with thirty-four.

 

The goals came fast and easy

They went flying from his feet

He’d turn you ’round completely

Maybe put you on your seat.

 

The tide was ever rising

Where the Mersey River flows

Even facing champions

And European foes.

 

Another run of brilliance

Thirteen games, eleven goals

A final match for everything

Now listen how that goes.

 

A chilling chop of Judo

A villain’s felling blow

An armhold from the netherworld

By the gruesome thug Ramos.

 

Tears across the countryside

Tears to flood the Nile

Who commits a crime against

A man with such a smile.

The World Cup came on quickly

Mo’s shoulder not yet healed

One loss and then another

Egypt’s fate was all but sealed

 

But even in this tale of woe

Of magic slowly stolen

Steel that once had stood him up

Flashed in one quick moment

 

From the spot, a penalty

Our hero took his place

He shoots, he scores, he celebrates

He kneels in thanks for grace.

 

Michael Signorelli edits books for a living, most recently as a senior editor at Henry Holt. His writing has appeared in The Paris Review Daily, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Howler, The Athletic, and elsewhere.