Two minutes in,
and I’m looking up at the sky,
not thinking, have they scored,
more like thinking where am I?
Shin in the face. Apparently,
I don’t remember.
My gaffer and the man in black
“No, stay down” says gaffer “don’t get up until you’re ready”
“take your time” advises ref
“Christ, I felt that” says our midfield enforcer.
Then someone’s tipping a gallon
of freezing water down my cheek
and asking how many fingers their holding up,
I tell them not to make obscene gestures at me
and get to my feet, shaky.
“You alright to play on?”
asks the ref, all concerned.
My head is pounding,
I feel like it was a brick, not a shin.
I’m still edgy on my feet,
vision’s not perfect,
balance is a joke.
I look at my gaffer,
at my six team-mates,
because seven is all we could field
and I really can’t et them down.
And I can’t bottle out now,
can’t be a weakling,
not in front of my older team-mates,
one of which I’m getting a lift home with.
“Yes, Ref” says I,
“Give me a minute”
What followed was 88 minutes of agony,
after each dive my brain was bouncing around in my skull
telling me to stop playing
but I was determined not to compromise
kept playing my game
diving at feet,
not puling out of anything.
We lost of course.
7 v 11, and a half-dead goalie?
5-0 – not unheard of in Sunday League.
Still the gaffer was pleased with me
and my back two.
And on the ride home
I didn’t get any stick,
rather told I was brave for continuing
and that I’d had a good game
and that we could afford to lose this because
we beat the league leaders two weeks back.
And of course, I was assured
that I’d have a killer bruise tomorrow.
88 minutes of hell,
but next week
when I’m fixed
there’ll be a different story.
And a different scoreline.