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For six-year-olds, the training’s done –
they’ve run and passed and passed and run
and dribbled slow around red cones
with just the minimum of moans
and learnt the art of ball control
and shooting at a cone-based goal
and let the ball roll out of reach
and been to the toilet three times each.
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And now – the reason that they came,
the end-of-session football game
on mini pitch with mini goals
and mini corner flags on poles.
Red bibs playing blue bibs (these
flap wondrously around their knees,)
chests puffed out and muscles straining
to practise all they learnt in training.
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The whistle blows, the air is filled
with yells from little kids unskilled,
who chase the ball in one great swarm,
a swirling, whirling dervish storm,
the raison d’être of them all –
to get a foot upon the ball
and kick it somewhere, anywhere,
while two cold goalies stand and stare.
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Ten minutes cannot split the teams,
although the blues win out on screams.
The action’s like a typhoon which
careers disjointed round the pitch
and strength of bodies on each side
means that the ball is forced out wide,
a glimpse into the Middle Ages
of football in its early stages.