'The Man on the Side' - Tom Warburton

Tom Warburton was a winner of the 2019 Orwell Youth Prize for his poem, The Man on the Side.

'The Man on the Side' - Tom Warburton

The goalkeeper come out to catch the ball.

Arms stretched out, legs up high.

For his first time in goal, I think he did alright.

But the man on the side didn’t. No.

In fact, he thought the complete opposite.

Abused, both physically and verbally.

The black boy in goal, he didn’t do anything wrong,

he didn’t deserve it, he was just a normal boy,

doing what his job is to do.

It’s only a Sunday morning after all.

So the boy got home wet and cold,

but that wasn’t what he felt down about.

Up the stairs without a noise coming out of his mouth.

Ignoring his mum and his dad,

even his dog which he adores so much.

Onto his bed, he lay staring at the ceiling,

next to his school clothes, with his tie,

standing out, shining right in his eyes.

He didn’t need those clothes for school.

It’s only a Sunday morning after all.


The theme for the 2020 Orwell Youth Prize has been announced. For more information, including details on how to enter, visit the Orwell Youth Prize website.

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The Orwell Youth Prize

The Orwell Youth Prize

The Orwell Youth Prize is an annual programme for 12-18-year olds culminating in a writing prize. Rooted in Orwell’s values of integrity and fairness, the prize and the activities around it introduce young people to the power of language and provoke them to think critically and creatively about the world in which they are living.

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