Poetry: The Rhyme of the Katwijk Mariner – An Ode to the Dauntless Dirk Kuyt

The Rhyme of the Katwijk Mariner - An Ode to the Dauntless Dirk Kuyt

To the right is the North Sea: its rippled skin is broken by a whale carrying its speared pride like a medal, or the clenched fist of a wave raining down on the jaw of a fishing boat. Tempestuous bulwarks of water and sleet bending steel can’t bend the will of the man behind the captain’s wheel. He named his third child after himself. Dirk Kuyt’s father would come home to him every time.

To Dirk’s left were churches, chip-shops and oblivion:

Some troubadours have the luxury

of walking down many roads;

A young Dirk Kuyt

from home to the docks to

the market to home

walked down one road too many times

undoing distances.

The proud pot-bellied sailor’s son was

already a man.


Sundays at Katwijk were housed in the house of the Lord

while Saturdays belonged to Dirk Kuyt.

The only other time Katwijk was ever of prominence

was during Roman times,

when Katwijk was of strategic importance,

which comes with being the teeth of the river Rhine.

People eke out a living here

and their backbones have the resolve of dikes.

Instead of the weight of the fishing net,

his shoulder was a catchment of hope for



45, 000

human sardines packed in the stadium.

Football was the lure

and Dirk Kuyt the most seaworthy.

The only time his shoulder slumped was

when his father, Dirk, died.

Hair with the yellow of harvesting wheat,

his face appears shaped by buffeting hail,

his craggy form  is of an iceberg,

much like his qualities,

are 3/4th under his skin.

Rock, ice and sea in the guise of a footballer

inseparable from the elements –

how can they distinguish him on

the pitch?


drab as an unshined leather jacket

or white as a Golem

with life and duty breathed into it

and told to never stop

and walk on,

walk on.


On the pitch, he would not stand out

and no one saw him announce his arrival

but he arrived

like a flicker of defiance

at the end of the candle.

Like the beam of a lighthouse when

the waves were highest.

His lungs house the west wind and his

sweat may have cut stones.

He seemed like a man who would make his own bread

or someone who could yield the towering tree to splinters

for firewood

or make a bench for the porch

and then make the porch to go with it.


His studs would till the soil

for his teammates to reap

the fruits in the most barren patches of

Camp Nou, Old Trafford, Emirates, Stamford Bridge, Standard Liege or San Siro.

Alabaster angels and

working-class heroes in football

are sparse as glacial fruits.

I believe tapestries should include

the ones who lay the mortar:

Claude Makeleles, Socrateses, Enzo Francescolis.

I believe those who sow should reap


as it’s in their nature to share.

I believe all the Alexsei Grigoryevich Stakhanovs

hacking away at stones in mines

should get a view of the setting sun.

Dedicated to the normal

and wise to the slavish stupidity of hubris in

a profession filled with the stupid-happy-vacuous

moth-bulb joys of drinks, cigarillos,

Corvettes loose livin’ and loose tongues –

he knew the hammer is only as strong

as the will.


Each day came with the obligation to succumb at the twilight.

Yet, finally as the captain of his own ship in Turkey and Rotterdam,

the man with the inheritance of just a boat,

inherited silverware

and the happily-ever-after that is reserved for

those who see the horizon and sail into it,



He was a striker who was a better winger than most

wingers and a better defender than most.

He couldn’t run,

but he would gallop.

Dirk Kuyt couldn’t control the ball

but he could compel the tide of the game to turn.


This poem has been inspired by Pablo Neruda and Simon Kuper.
Srijandeep Das

Managing Editor, journalist, writer. On a mission to elevate Football Writing to an art form.

  • Shafi Ahmedzae

    Amazing piece Sri! You’ve outdone yourself on this one. Loved every bit of it!