English soccer star David Beckham's Achilles tendon injury on Sunday inspired sympathy in fans — and poetry from British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Duffy has penned the poem about his injury, titled Achilles.

'When Odysseus came, with an athlete's build, a sword and a shield, he followed him to the battlefield, the crowd's roar,

and it was sport, not war,his charmed foot on the ball ...but then his heel, his heel, his heel ...'

— Excerpt from Achilles by Carol Ann Duffy


The poem mixes references to the ancient battlefield hero Achilles with allusions to battles on the soccer field.

Achilles was invulnerable in battle, because his mother dipped him in the waters of the River Styx as a baby. But she held him up by his ankle, leaving one key spot unprotected.

He is slain by Odysseus when he is struck in that vulnerable spot.

Beckham tore an Achilles tendon and required surgery, meaning he will miss the World Cup in South Africa.

"It's fascinating that the injury takes its name from Achilles ... The whole point of Greek myths is the combination of triumph and tragedy that we follow in them," said Duffy, who is a big soccer fan.

Duffy, appointed poet laureate in May 2009, has written poetry about the scandal of British MPs' expenses and the last two British First World War veterans.