This became my go-to poem for a while, the one that I would share repetitively at events, and knew inside out – though I would still hold the page in my hand so as to comfort me on stage! I wrote it in about 2012 as part of a project commemorating the life of Arthur Wharton, the first black professional footballer in England. All of this culminated in sharing the poem at the unveiling of his statue at St Georges Park in 2014.
They called him nigger, darkie his
walnut visage blackened their insight
but little did they know his mission
breathed the same sacred values, while his
blood flowed with colours
of contrasting worlds
From a Scottish sea captain
who unlocked secret histories.
He found gold and a princess in Ghana-
home to warrior kings.
From the hummingbird
a spark of freedom within chains.
Arthur birthed in Accra,
grew into England’s soil
from riches to rags
shaken from wings,
lost in the race.
That opened the latch
And the hummingbird
was set free.