"Here is a poem I wrote about one of the saddest times in my life. It focuses on a single incident – an event that occurred which I think is one of the most distressing things I’ve seen personally, but that also captures such a wealth of human emotional pain that I found it impossible to express it in any form other than poetry. It’s about a man who bought a beef burger and immediately dropped it on the ground.
The incident occurred at a football match that I went to with my dad. It was probably between fifteen and twenty years ago, so I don’t remember who was playing or what the score was, but I do remember the man dropping his burger. It really touched me on quite a deep level, which is why I felt I needed to write the poem – as much as it is about communicating the sadness I felt to other people, it is also about exorcising some of those memories from my subconscious and moving on.
At half-time the man who dropped the burger (the burger dropper) had queued up at the van with everyone else, completely unaware of what was about to happen, and I think this is really where my empathy for him begins. He had probably been really looking forward to his burger – if he was anything like me it would have been one of his main reasons for wanting to go to the match. And it was a long queue so I can really understand how his excitement must have built. When he first stood at the van he might not even have been sure what he was going to buy – the burger, a bacon roll, a fried egg roll, it doesn’t matter; they all taste the same. They’re all cooked on the same dirty hot plate, picking up bits of whatever ‘food’ has touched it in the previous three weeks. What he chose wasn’t important, but once he had decided he must have been looking forward to it
This is all speculation, but what is known for sure is that he walked away from the van with a burger. Only about three steps though, because that was when he dropped it in the dirt. I watched him pick it up and he looked so angry with himself that it was really upsetting. He had decided to buy a burger, he had queued up, he had paid his money and now it was in the dusty grass because of his inability to hold on to it properly. Was there nothing he could do right? Why did things always have to go so wrong? How come, just when things seem to be going in the right direction, they all just fall apart like a greasy burger in a greasy bun slipping out of his greasy hands down in to the dirt? What a hopeless little excuse of a man he was.
But, despite all this, I felt like I understood how he felt and why he was so angry. It made me sad to see him blame himself for an accident that could have happened to anyone. I really do find it difficult to fully capture the range of emotions associated with the incident, which is why I wrote the poem. Hopefully it will go some way towards helping other people understand what I have been through, and perhaps provide some comfort for those who have experienced something similar. Here it is.
The saddest thing I ever saw,
A man dropped his burger on the floor.
He’d bought himself a half-time treat;
It was an undercooked circle of re-formed meat."