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All summer, cheeking Parkie
with language we wouldn’t use at home
becomes routine, but he never responds in kind,
preferring to keep our ball when he can catch it.
Kickabouts arise with many a-side:
we brothers against the Shackletons
and anyone else who fancies a game.
Some unleashed mongrel invariably tears about
to sink its glue-coloured teeth in the innards,
not letting go until the owner catches up
and smacks it on the nose. By the end of August,
the touchlines are littered with misshapen footballs,
each one holding, in the leather’s folds,
a mazy dribble of moss-lined rain.
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