The Ball is Round

Every country in the world has a football team
With matches at home and away
That’s how it is if you’re a national squad
You travel and you play
But if you play for Palestine
You never can be sure
If you can make it out of your house
And into the one next door

If you can make it out of your house
And into the next one down
Then you still never know
If you can make it out of town
If you can make it past the checkpoints
If you can make it past the wall
If you might possibly be able to fly
To another port of call

But the ball is round
And you never know
Which way it’s gonna go

Most professional football players
Needn’t have to think
If I go to training today
Will I end up in the clink
If I go to training
Will I be surrounded by barbed wire
Will I find a football pitch
Encircled, under fire


It’s just a little country
Maybe not a significant team
Ranked among the world
Not more than 113
But the very fact of their existence
Is a vision to behold
And the future is unwritten
I’m told


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“The Ball Is Round” was co-written by me and Kristian Svensson of Malmo, Sweden.  It appears on the Bandcamp album and CD, The Other Side (2015).

I know extremely little about sports — though I’ve learned quite a bit along the way inadvertently by spending a lot of time on the road with football fanatics like Attila the Stockbroker, Alistair Hulett and Robb Johnson (names presented in order according to level of fanaticism, and, coincidentally, in order in terms of how much time we’ve spent together on the road).  My friend Jack wanted me to write a song about the Palestine national football team, however.  I know quite a bit about Palestine, at least.  I read the book Jack recommended (How Soccer Explains the World) but actually it was mostly stuff I already learned from Attila and Alistair and I was still at square one.  Then I was touring with Kristian Svensson, and presented to him my dilemma, hoping he’d have an idea for a hook line.  And he did!  “The ball is round” — a phrase commonly known among Europeans, but, I’ve found, not well-known in the US.  Anyway, it means “anything can happen.”