1. This poem consists of two sentences: 'Middle-aged couple playing tennis. When the game ends and they go home the net will still be between them.' Look at the way the poet has written the words on the page and decide a) how you should read them: from top to bottom or from left to right and b) why they are arranged in this way.
2. The poet has used an extended metaphor to illustrate the type of relationship this middle-aged couple has. What is the metaphor? How would you describe their relationship?
3. How would their relationship be different if there were a wall between them instead of a net?
4. Look at the shape made by each list of words. Can you see a female silhouette on the left and a male one on the right? Can you see how the two people playing tennis are not 'looking' at each other but are 'looking' away from each other? What does this tell us about the kind of contact they have with each other?
5. The title has two possible meanings. One refers to the age of the couple. What is the other? (Check how points are scored in tennis.)
6. Try to write a similar poem, using a sporting metaphor to describe an unsatisfactory relationship between 2 people. You could begin by writing 2 or 3 sentences describing the relationship and then arrange the words in an imaginary boxing ring or a football pitch, for example.