The Giant Olympic Relay Poem is Here!

 Photo by Athletes in Action West Europe

We asked you to send us Olympic couplets which we could piece together into a giant Olympic Relay Poem. We had an amazing response from poets of all ages, including primary school pupils and adults. All the couplets were joined together and you can read the poem we created below.

The couplets were pieced together by young poet Chloe Maughan.  Chloe was commended in the Foyle Young Poet Award of 2010. Since then she has turned her hands to arts journalism, with pieces included in The Journal, Culture Magazine and the Abacus Post. Having just recently completed her A Levels, Chloё hopes to study English Literature at degree level next year.

YPN will be working with the wider Poetry Society to add to the poem throughout the Olympics. You can send your couplets by Twitter @poetrysociety or email on [email protected] and a selection of favourite couplets will be added to the Poetry Society site.

Olympic Relay Poem

Burning torch in the night
Guiding Britain to the light,
The fire catches, leaps up high,
A single flame, reaches for the sky.
Over on Tralfamadore they all can see
the torch
From London, to Beijing, then Ancient Greece.
Hundreds of people, running to see the flame,
See their happy faces when they’re cheering your name.

“We’re going up the Orbit. It’s a lovely sunny day!
I can see the flame from here. Hip Hip Hooray!”

The Olympics glorious in London town will be
So stand fit and fine as after a nice cuppa coffee.
Run with the glory as the torch lies snug in your hands,
Be as fast as a rocket carrying the flame,
Hopefully everyone will cheer your name.
Running like a cheetah, swimming like a swan,
Ready to pass the Olympic flame on.
Running on the roadside, passing on the flame,
Crowds of children, cheering all the same:
“There goes the torch, spreading down the street,
Carrying Britain’s hopes – what a great feat!”

Do you think it will start to hail?
Do you think the boats will sail?
The weather at the Olympics no one can foresee,
But I will race, swim and climb, so make me a nominee!
The torch never passes this land,
And we await, end with the sand,
As the javelin goes through the air,
Mr Mayor shouts “It’s almost there”.

At last, it is here!
The flame passes; we cheer:
“Giddy up’ giddy up”, not horses,
This is the sound of success following the torch bearers.
Alive, we are thankful we see this day;
As the torch rushes by I watch it’s burning flame,
The athletes are getting ready, eager for fame.

That fire is running with red, white, blue;
England’s athletes know what to do:
Enter with spirit and pride, return with honour,
Be proud to wear your country’s colour.
Their authentic vigour of flesh and sinew,
Results it spectacular and every time anew.

The Olympics come every four years,
And now England will cheer with beer.
It’s our time now to put on a show that the world will never forget,
I still sit and think of those great races, between Seb Coe and Steve Ovett.
The opening ceremony is so cool,
If you miss it you’re a fool,
We’ll be mapping out Britain in a frame of gold,
Not one ticket left unsold.

There’s a torch bright in the podium,
While I am sitting proudly in the stadium,
For the Olympics have begun,
Medals are to be won.
The cloudless days, the windy nights,
Welcome the athletes from around the earth.
In London 2012, no matter your gender, religion or race,
Athletes will unite, then fight for that honourable first place.

And that is your voice, my dear, the very equine smile
Of hope, galloping a hundred thousand furlongs,
So let the breeze whisper the essence of Olympics,
With the flames enchanting the spirit of heroics,
The golden flames, like rivers flow,
Harbour hope and triumph within their hazy glow.
Years passed by the Olympics shared,
All the good sportsmen in the air,
The day starts and the games begin,
This is the day says, Amy Williams, as she wins the race.
Nation to nation, a flame among hands,
A rising, a roaring, blue screams from the stands:

“Go on England you’re the best”
We are cheering from the West,
“Earth, water, wind, fire and mystery,
In London 2012 we stand to make history”.

Warming up the muscles, ready to run,
Standing on the starting line ready for the gun.
Pulse raising, quickened rhythm, causing quite a stir,
Everything around him is a swift deft blur.

Bang! Bang! Goes the gun,
Those shots were not for fun,
On your toes Jack, floating on air,
Fleet as a comet with metres to spare.
Running free, running fast,
Trying so hard not to come last.
Run like a lightning bolt, fast like the wind
Running with the golden flame: “We’re going to win!”
Run like a spider, sprint like a cheetah,
First to the line is going to be a winner!
Feel for the ever, fight for the now,
Run ‘til you’re wondering just quite how.

Usain was in front, first on the track,
While the others were falling back.
“Run real fast and keep the pace up,
Heart is thumping, want to win cup!”
Usain was very fast, he was on the track,
The people were behind his back.
“Running, running is all I think about,
And I’m the best and have no doubt.”
Usain stopped running and looked around, confused.
“Oh for goodness sake,” he mumbled. He was only going the wrong way.
All the athletes ran for the gold medal,
I am sure it was Beth Tweddle.

But Bolt is the fastest,
He is the classiest;
Running faster was once a dream,
Now he’s the fastest guy ever seen!
Run really quick in the Olympic Games,
All the athletes all felt lame.
Quick and nimble, now in the lead,
Resisting the pain and picking up speed.
Race to the finish line, soar like a bird,
Stars are blazing to show the world!
Wave your flag high and race for the gold,
To win inspiration and courage for the world to hold.

As the athletes see the finish is nearing,
Their heart in their ears is all they are hearing;
The people in the crowd shouting very loud
Made the Olympians very proud.
Sparks light up the island, embers burn in the deep ocean night
As an entire nations dreams, erupt into life,
Nation to nation, a flame among hands,
A rising, a roaring, blue screams from the stands.

I like standing long jump but
I like trampolining too.
I Jump like a kangaroo, swim like a fish,
I can run very fast, swish, swish, swish;
Trot like a pony, sing really loud,
Can I jump as high as a cloud?
Jump like a kangaroo, fly like a bird.
I don’t like it when I come third.
The mad professor broke through security, grabbed the microphone, and announced that he had just invented the quintuple jump.

So reach for the stars, aim high! Aim high!
Today is the day you will fly!
Jump like a kangaroo, sprint like a bear,
The jump can’t move or it isn’t fair.
Jumping longer,
Even stronger,
Soar like Pegasus, our show jumping stars
Dely Cine de Muze, Eric Lamaze.

Run like an antelope, jump like a frog,
They can jump further than the log.
Soar like a javelin in the blue sky,
Dreams come true if you really try.
Feet lifting off the ground,
Soaring through the air, then pushing back down;
Pound the earth, aim for the sky,
Lightning oracles flash your triumph.
Fly like an aeroplane, soar like a bird,
As you land in sand many cheers are heard.

Sparks light up the island, embers burn in the deep ocean night
As an entire nations dreams, erupt into life,
Nation to nation, a flame among hands,
A rising, a roaring, blue screams from the stands:

“Go on England you’re the best”
We are cheering for the rest,
“We look like a petal but are a snake inside,
We are winning by far and are filled with pride.”

Across the oceans, across the seas,
Swimming is the sport for me.
Diving off the diving board into the deep,
Hitting the water with no splash to see;
Swimming at the other end with a crawl,
Swimming even though the water is cool.
Jump off the diving board, from fifty metres high,
See all those happy smiles as you flash by.
I swim like a dolphin in the wavy sea,
I hope the big shark won’t catch me.

I swim, I splash,
I dive, I dash.

Swim like a fish, Swing from a beam,
That’s what it takes to make an Olympic team;
Dive from the high board, into the pool,
Splash goes the water when you slip in.
Splash like a dolphin, splosh like a whale,
Swimmer participants wave your tails!
Dive like a dolphin, swim like a seal,
Elegant is how you feel when you are an eel,
Jumping like a dolphin into the breeze,
Then slicing through the raging seas.

Swim like a sailfish, in the water cold,
Then you might win Olympic Gold!
Dive like a penguin, swim like a shark,
All the judges love to lark,
So swim, swim, swim, and kick those legs,
And get a reward of scrambled eggs.

Sparks light up the island, embers burn in the deep ocean night
As an entire nations dreams, erupt into life:
Bare back and bare toes, streamlined glow,
The water swallows the diver whole,
She’s pushing through the water, going for gold,
Swimming for her dream as it unfolds:
She explodes from the water, sleek muscle display,
Our Missy Franklin, Team USA!

Nation to nation, a flame among hands,
A rising, a roaring, blue screams from the stands,
The gathered people, all in a crowd,
The fans of Olympics cheering very loud,
For it is hard to contain the pride of a nation,
And you have to cheer at such jubilation.

Raise up the flag till it covers your eyes,
We all live our lives in Olympic paradise.
Athens and London, Berlin and Rome,
The Olympics always have a different home;
Love the celebration or love the sport,
Olympic spirit is for all the Earth!
Athletes coming from all over the world to England,
Everybody is taking part,
From China to Canada, from England to Brazil,
In this Olympic year, have fun, we all will.

It isn’t just a contest,
It’s a passion passed down years after years,
So sprint like an athlete, jump like me,
Try so hard that the world can see;
Keep calm, keep cool, when under stress,
Have fun when you run to perform your best.

You trained so hard,
Now it’s time for the race to start.
Riding in the sand school, listening to the crowd,
Going for gold, will do you proud.

Go on horse, don`t give me a frown,
Win that race I’m counting on you now;
Jumping over fences, galloping around,
The horses in the stable are safe and sound;
Jump like an antelope, ride like a dream,
You can use the equestrian team;
To the end of the track, just to cross the line,
I never thought I’d achieve this dream of mine;
The cheering crowd edges me on,
As the thought of victory charges my storm.

Sparks light up the island, embers burn in the deep ocean night
As an entire nations dreams, erupt into life,
Nation to nation, a flame among hands,
A rising, a roaring, blue screams from the stands:
“Go on England be bold
And get a gold”
“Go on Pakistan, go go go,
Don’t be a loser, no no no!”

While watching the events
Your heart starts to tense,
We’ll surely lose the tennis,
All our hopes are on Jessica Ennis –
It’s very nasty when the ball hits me,
I don’t like it in Wembley –
But first or last,
I always feel like I’ve had a blast;
Compete like champions or lose like kings,
Don’t sell your torch for diamond rings!

Girls are jumping,
The crowd is dumming,
Watching like a whistler waiting for the key,
Crowds will praise what they hate to see.

Loading up with arrows, pulling back the bow,
I’m just wondering how far it will go!
Flying to the target, hitting at full speed,
Hoping it will hit the bull, “please hit it please!”
Hitting the target with a big thud,
“Oh no!”, It fell and landed in the mud.

A frozen moment flashlights glaring,
To rise or fall will complete the story.

Tightly strung is the archer’s bow,
The arrow’s duel with its lifelong foe.
She fires the arrow, never to miss
A gold medal! She’s won this!

Sparks light up the island, embers burn in the deep ocean night
As an entire nations dreams, erupt into life;
A burning light, from heart to heart,
Britain glowing through the dark.

The torches seem to blind, five hollow eyes,
Hoops that stare at their flames, surprised;
Dreams of silver, bronze, and gold
Shine upon a torch of old.

Five colours, locked in rings,
Symbolise unity, pride of Kings.
Black, blue, red, yellow and green,
Together with the Olympics comes love for your team;
For without you there is no we,
And without sports there is no me;
Winning is the gold goal, skill is a need,
But determination is the key!

You work hard to push the pedal,
To try and win a golden medal;
You run like a cheetah, Hit like a ball,
Score a goal, try not to fall;
Play for the team, as hard as you can,
Don’t give up for the hope of man.

Games are us, games are we,
In the Olympics we are bound to make history;
As the summer sun fades away,
The Olympic Games come into play;
Every nation taking part,
The crowd goes quiet, the race can start.

Boots out the locker, on my starting block, ready for the gun,
There goes the bang, running like the wind, having lots of fun.
Running on the hard track, getting sore feet,
Hearing all the people scream and your heart beat!
Run like a leopard, smooth like a glider,
Run to the finish line, “faster, stronger, higher.”
Nearly at the finish, feeling proud as punch,
Listening to the crowd, what a lovely bunch:

“The athletes are running,
They are truly stunning!”
“Make your country proud”
Cheer the crowd.

Elsewhere white balls are hit, with a ping, with a pong,
Hit them with top spin or they’ll fly too long.
“Come on England, come on now,
Score a goal, don’t matter how!”
Red, white, blue – the colours of our nation,
This summer will be a celebration.
“Come on England, come on now,
Score a goal and take a bow!”
As Team GB win and score,
The Great British public begin to roar!

Sparks light up the island, embers burn in the deep ocean night
As an entire nations dreams, erupt into life,
Nation to nation, a flame among hands,
A rising, a roaring, blue screams from the stands.

As the athletes are starting their race,
The crowd cheers as they pick up the pace.
Power in his hands, a wondrous beauty,
As he runs and fights for the honour of his country;
“Grab the baton! Pass the baton to me!
After I will fall on my knee.”
“You’ve been training for this day for the past four years?
Then you tripped at the starting line? Well now we’re winning, cheers”
Running down the track, baton in hand,
Our boys must learn the ability to band
Thousands of eyes are staring,
As they run with pride and glory.

Gleaming golden light, you entered the school ground with admiration,
You sounded like a hot air balloon:
“No name, no face, just the power of my will,
You don’t know me yet…but you will.
No storm will stop me, nothing can dampen my shine,
Now is my time, so let me shine bright.
Every stride I take I’m feeling free,
This race will release the champion in me.
My name, my skill, my sheer power of will,
It will be there leaving history, with my burning will”

There will come the astonishing moment
When they are lit for all to see,
When that anthem goes really loud,
We’ll be singing smart and proud.

Unweave gravity into movement massive as the ocean,
Carve into the atmosphere a new thread of motion,
The gold is yours
If your skills don’t lie.
Strong like an ox, graceful as can be,
There’s no doubt gymnastics is the sport for me!
Throwing a javelin, into the golden pot,
Gold is all I get, giving only my best shot;
Run like a jaguar, strike like a fox,
Hit the tennis ball in the box;
Run with a smile,
Then run a whole mile.
I’m not legendary, if you’re not with me,
It is fun when you join with me.
Go join the tennis match,
We are all counting on you even if someone takes a catch;
Everybody can catch a good baseball,
Even when they’re playing football;
So swing your tennis racket, hit the ball;
The Olympics means fun for all.

Go on crowd cheer very loud,
Or we won’t be very proud;
Run to the finish line, cheer like a man,
All of the others got a ban.
Athletes, be bold
Or you won’t win gold;
Slither like a snake, don’t you rest,
“Hey you hockey players do your best!”
Swim like a great white shark, fly like an eagle,
So no one thinks you are a seagull;
Cycle past everyone, push on the pedals,
You might win about three gold medals.
If you spin,
You’ll always win,
So keep on trying, keep on fighting,
Never give up and you will be flying.

Sitting in a dark room, staring at the screen,
Wish I could say how long it has been;
Rebecca can’t tell, but her eyes do spell
‘the Olympics are coming‘, now she’s living in hell.

“All this sport becoming a drag?
Stay at home, have a fag.
Get on an aeroplane, fly overseas,
Miss the Olympics? – Oh yes please!

Talk of the Olympics, chatter everywhere
Why it’s such a big deal, I really do not care.
Queue ’til you fall asleep, spend all your pay,
Just to watch stupid sports for a day.

Powder on his fingers, kilograms vexed,
Humid buzz of his muscles flexed.
All determination and inspiration,
Just to get a marvelous, victorious sensation.

The IOC thought they had it easy,
Clearly failed to foresee corrupt entries.
Gentrification: the tune of the day:
“None of the riff-raff can live in our way”.

Inequality wins the human race,
Love fainted, came last place.
Wrong shirt, wrong label, pass me the scissors,
This is the way that G4S delivers.

Humanity hoola-hoops four circles,
London’s dizzy so scissors get busy.
Immense repression faces protest.
There’s already a race that’s lost.

I see it here, I see it there,
I swear the Olympics are everywhere.
The high esteemed Olympic Flame:
A useless candle with more fame.

Want to watch professionals fight for gold for free?
Become a pirate. For me
A package holiday to homeland Greece,
Will bypass the games with pride and peace.”

Meanwhile, he’s buzzing like a bee
In a big tree –
He has won a ticket, he is so happy,
In his mind the Olympics are all he can see –
A little boy, cheering his hero’s name,
Never thinking he’d be doing the same.
He’s sitting at the starting line holding for the gun,
The Paralympics sportsmen ready and begun.

All over the headlines, we want to see
Britain takes the gold and a cup of tea.
With pride we stride, Britain behind us,
The stadiums are filled with excited buzz;
The flame we carry, which tells our story,
To other nations, we show our glory.

Man is a miracle, life is a mystery
And our Olympian spirit is what sets us free,
So men and women should give up never,
With hope and glory to last forever.
London society, together building for the games,
But the Olympians go to and fro for Olympic fame.

And here I am, laid in bed
Thinking about the Olympics in my head:
Cricket is a sport that’s fun,
You whack the ball then run;
Swim like a penguin, run like a cheetah,
Then drink some juice by the litre;
Lots of people are running on the track,
While the swimmers are swimming back;
Swim, run, break, the triathlon you’ve defeat,
Here’s a medal that you can’t eat.

Watching all the runners go past,
Making sure they will be fast,
I’ll swing like a gorilla, buzz like a bee,
Though Jennah won’t work with out me.
I love the Olympics so there I will definitely be,
Even if I have to swim across the Mediterranean and the Yellow sea,
Because athletes are cool,
Athletes fast, athletes good;
London means life, 2012 means energy,
The Olympics is a giant in sport history.

“I am proud, I am steady,
I am also ready”,
Becoming the soul of every athlete’s lyrics,
Now, hence, London takes over Olympics.
The fate of us all no one can forsee,
But let me swim with the Olympics as my great sea.

I like to get in the pool,
Because I think it’s cool;
Sink without swimming and fall out of breath,
The world will watch your untimely death,
So don’t blow bubbles as big as a big fish,
But swim as fast as a sailfish.
Tom Daley dives and takes a big fat leap,
Now all the water is in a big heap.

Once there was a man who ran with a bat,
And there the boy was with a hat,
The man went to stop, then had to dive in,
So that he could finish and win.
In one spirit of determination records continue to swim upstream,
Because we let our fears sink;
Bright lights flashing in the crowd,
“I will smash this, big and loud!”

You wave your flag,
With respect for your country,
You run and jump, Swim and dive,
While I sit at home and watch it all live,
But nervous is the crowd,
So make your country proud,
Hurry up England win now,
If you don’t still give a bow.

I lost my teeth in a boxing match up,
And he fell on the big fat cup

When the events set near your place,
There’s a sort of a sporting air in the space,
Weaving light, cobra-tightrope stadium
– Pulse pulled taut, thrash brass-bellied drum;
Poet-warlords at their horseback, brandishing their plow,
Singing as you sing, armored–bastioned to their vow.
Our hands bright and finger-spread, face turns in night,
And we are flaring red scorched flight,
Sitting indoors, your eyes weave the fabric of success,
Knit thumping ovation at the proceedings.

Higher, louder, bigger, stronger, faster, slimmer, grander, new,
Four years were a small price for the beauty of the birds that flew.
I remember sun burning, students running,
Anticipation growing, buses trundling;
You shot through the crowds like a bullet of happiness,
Your golden armour glistening in the sunlight,
After training, pacing, stumbling, spraining,
So maddening, saddening, humbling, draining,
I saw your hot breath in the cool night air,
Eyes shut running with the wind in your hair.
I thought I saw a different man, a man of pride and joy.
And yet, through the looking glass, you’re barely just a boy.
The earth defanged itself to see you grown and
Grow and stretch the fringes of a body now to old,
To the appetites, to the appetites of modern songs;
‘Let us make man in our image’, and so, you were born.
This! This is the light; the blinding foliage of night,
The plenitude of love escaping its own fire,
Street to street, town to town, you leave us standing and cheering,
You will be with us forever.


Julie Woods, Siegfried Barber, Heather Simpson, Dan Kenway, Naise Barrett, Toni Rowe, Tabitha Lay, Helen Zhou Huiwen, Daniel Hodgkinson, Elyssa Sayers, Jasmine, Ethan, Tegan, Isabel, Beth Frisby, Natalie Henderson, Sophie Proud, Christine Gwaze, Eanna Gilmore, Nicole Duckworth, Carla Tromans, Charis, Luke, Bethany Thain, Dev Annune Penamala, Matilda, Chloe Cheyne, Class 3.1 and 3.2 from Queen Edith Primary School (Cambridge), Mr Owen’s Class from Ysgol Parc y Tywyn School (Wales), Awaal Gata, James Liu, Prue Harrison, Shravani Khandar, Juan David Romero, South Malling Church of England Primary School, Grace, Ty, Lucie Jacq, Jake Hung, Etienne, Jay and Jack O, Megan and James, Hannah Corsini, Usha Kishore, Poe Bogart, Sammy Lovat, Leonora Matthews, Grace Zhang, Lottie Attle, Matilda Bentley, Susan Bogersen, Bruno, Theo, Jack T and Liam, Sofia Helin, Anita Liu, Georgia Farquhar, Jack Heblani, Ezinwanne Umerah, Frances Trimming, Jodie, Amber and Habibah, Jannis, Peter and Elliott, Rosie Cooper, Emily Nicholas, Saad Ahmed, Mikel, Kathryn Cussons, Angharad Davies, Alexandrina Brant, Cleo Preece, Alice Thornton White, Daisy Bethell, Emily Ashwell, Elliott Dingley, Natalia, Sawda Jimale, Ahou Koutchess, Ian Marder, Anna Farley, Amy-Anne Williams, Red Hoody, Alex, Jake S, Fatima Bushra Ahmed, Caitlin Duffy, Jordan Rubinstein, James AR Barnes, Cara Bintcliffe, Hayley Gow, Barbara Hawthorne, Emily Morris, Najat Jebari, Laura, Merryn, Bridie, Tom, Colin, Iona Cessford, Olivia Kershaw, Tobie and Jack, Archie, Kathryn Cussons, Freya Wilson, Holly May Dixon, Marsha Turner, Sarma Radhamani, Naise Barrett, Holly Reaney, Olivia, Laoise McMahon, Priyanka Kurl, Ram Verma, Naimh and Josh, Harry, Ben, Jordan Rubinstein, Yasmin Wilson, Michelle D’costa, Toni Rowe, Matthew, Sharma Bukhari, Kerri Hawkins, Melissa Yeung, Emily and Ewan, Lena, Jemma, Kiera, Joseph and Patrick, Steven O’Key, Charlotte and Lottie, Hope, Devon and Chloe, Lydia, Daniel, Josie, Annabelle, Lucy, Scarlett, William, Elliot Brown, Maggie Shelton, Lottie Attle, Sophie Parker, Henry St Leger Davey, Joanna Mills, Prabhu Chandan Das Bebartta, Sinead Livesey, Hui O, Arjun Choudhuri, Kwaku Amoako Fosu-Gyeabour, Molly, Grace, Holly, Lizzie, Bill Riley, Beatrice Smith, Oma Edoja, Israa Khan, Taran Mathur, Sylvia Villa, Alice Broadhurst, Shirish Suman, Ashleigh, Rebecca W, Lorna Reeve, Nicola Moran, Guntaj Arora, Marsha Turner, Katherine Sturt-Scobie, Olivia Clark, Israa Khan, Abbie Marsh, Clarice Schreiner, Ian Mander, Josh Pursey, Lucy Barton.

Congratulations to Jasmine Sleep, Caitlin Duffy and Christine Gwaze – out of all the great couplets in our giant Olympic Relay poem, theirs have been chosen to win a Young Poets Network notebook. In each case, we felt these lines particularly captured the rhythm of Ali’s famous couplet and also the intense atmosphere of the Olympics. Gold medals all round!

Loading up with arrows, pulling back the bow,
I’m just wondering how far it will go!
Jasmine Sleep

Feel for the ever, fight for the now,
Run til you’re wondering just quite how.
Caitlin Duffy

Every stride I take I’m feeling free,
This race will release the champion in me.
Christine Gwaze

Published July, 2012


11 thoughts on “The Giant Olympic Relay Poem is Here!

  1. great poem. i spotted some of mine in there.

    well done everyone. this poem could have been completed without you

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