Nails bitten to the cuticle,
Hands pressed tightly together
As if in silent prayer.
Like old men twice our age.
As the blue tide pours remorselessly forward.
A corner from the right,
Twenty one players in the home team’s goalmouth.
Only to returned again with interest.
Valuable seconds crawl by
As the ball is placed in the quadrant.
The whistle blows.
In slow motion
The ball arcs towards the penalty spot
To be met by the grizzled forehead
Of the opposition’s dangerman.
Like a rocket the ball heads for the top corner;
A goal, surely?
From out of nowhere the keeper dives to tip it over.
Third corner in a minute.
Relief as this one is hacked away,
Punted aimlessly upfield
To where the centre forward ought to be.
Yet he’s nowhere to be seen.
Sacrificed, in fact, for experienced defender
To preserve the home team’s
Fourth official holds up the dreaded board:
Received with nervous laughter,
Bordering on the hysterical.
Forehead furrowed and clammy,
Palms glistening with sweat,
An urge to urinate,
But can’t possibly go yet.
Back to the action:
Ball sliced for a throw in.
The big men amble forward,
Prepared to flick on the exocet.
Ball headed clear.
Blasted out, booted upfield
To raucous, ragged cheers of relief.
Three minutes remain.
No enjoyment now,
Just pure suffering.
Free kick to the blue hordes,
Six men in the wall,
Hands guarding their prized assets,
Four others on the goal line.
Rebound fired goalwards,
Against the upright.
Two minutes left.
Yet another corner.
In a do or die attempt
The opposition keeper prowls the penalty area.
Corner swung in,
Headed straight up in the air.
A duel between the two keepers,
Ball fisted clear.
The agony is unbearable.
Dry, rasping throat.
Pleading with the ref,
Imploring him to blow his whistle.
He checks his watch once………twice,
Has it stopped?
Puffing his cheeks out, the whistle blows.
Punching the air in jubilation.
More agony next week?