Poem of the week – The Olympic Girl by John Betjeman

A poem to celebrate the final weekend of Wimbledon this weekend.

tennis racket and ballsThe Olympic Girl by John Betjeman

The sort of girl I like to see

Smiles down from her great height at me.


She stands in strong, athletic pose

And wrinkles her retrouss? nose.


Is it distaste that makes her frown,

So furious and freckled, down

On an unhealthy worm like me?

Or am I what she likes to see?

I do not know, though much I care,






would I were

(Forgive me, shade of Rupert Brooke)

An object fit to claim her look.


Oh! would I were her racket press’d

With hard excitement to her breast

And swished into the sunlit air

Arm-high above her tousled hair,

And banged against the bounding ball

“Oh! Plung!” my tauten’d strings would call,

“Oh! Plung! my darling, break my strings

For you I will do brilliant things.

And when the match is over, I

Would flop beside you, hear you sigh;

And then with what supreme caress,

You’d tuck me up into my press.


Fair tigress of the tennis courts,

So short in sleeve and strong in shorts,

Little, alas, to you I mean,

For I am bald and old and green.