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An Erotic Poem For Brazil’s First ‘Keeper

July 11, 2014


Marcos de Mendonca. Fluminense and Brazil keeper. Stud.

Marcos de Mendonca. Fluminense and Brazil keeper. Stud.


One of the key points of discussion and sheer enthusiasm at this 2014 World Cup has been centred around just how phenomenally many goalkeepers have performed.

Well, meet Brazil’s very first man-between-the-posts: Marcos Carneiro de Mendonca – the crucial player behind Brazil’s successful South American title of 1919, and the star of Fluminense’s historic run of victories between 1917-1919. Indeed, one of the most important names in the early days of Brazilian football, and a key figure in the establishment of the sport in the land of Jogo Bonito.

Additionally, his place in history holds particular interest to me, personally, because Marcos de Mendonca was also the father of Barbara Helidora, Brazil’s most prolific theatre critic, and translator/interpreter of William Shakespeare.

Heliodora is about to turn 91 this August, and has only recently finished three new volumes of Portuguese translations of Shakespeare’s Complete Works – all 37 plays! Indeed, Heliodora inherited her brilliant writing skills from her mother, celebrated poetess Ana Amelia.

In fact, Marcos de Mendonca’s stunningly dashing figure and goalkeeping prowess have been immortalized by this delightfully erotic poem by Amelia below – it is one of the first pieces of football writing in Brazilian history, describing the very first time Amelia’s eyes caught sight of the Rio stud in action:

The Leap-

“When I saw you today,
Executing your relaxed, daring and vigorous leap
Like a figure from the Iliad
I trembled in the most intimate part of my being
Swept by a frenetic impulse as if I were before a Greek,
The hero of an Olympiad.

Shaken like Dryad before Apollo
I measure his magnificent figure.

Against the incomparable background of a pale twilight
You threw yourself into space
Tensed all your muscles
Enrapt by the roar of the crowd’s enthusiastic applause
Like an agile God that graciously came down from Olympus
You touched the ground glorious
Fervent and fearless
Perfect in the beauty of the classic Greek sculpture”


– A.Amelia, 1922


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