We construct and analyze a second-order implicit–explicit (IMEX) scheme for the time integration of semilinear second-order wave equations. The scheme treats the stiff linear part of the problem implicitly and the nonlinear part explicitly. This makes the scheme unconditionally stable and at the same time very efficient, since it only requires the solution of one linear system of equations per time step. For the combination of the IMEX scheme with a general, abstract, nonconforming space discretization we prove a full discretization error bound. We then apply the method to a nonconforming finite element discretization of an acoustic wave equation with a kinetic boundary condition. This yields a fully discrete scheme and a corresponding a-priori error estimate.