A poem about the beautiful game
|The air is clear and biting, resonating through the grandstands
In a way that seems fitting for a contest that promises such monument.
In the center of the spectacle, the players look to stay warm and stay loose,
Curling their legs, curling their passes with the precision of practice,
Aiming for the crispness of their play to match this November morning.
In actuality, the quality of the game resembles more
The pitch- a sloppy bog, saturated treachery of recent rainfall.
First the home supporters, then the away fans,
Stifle groans as golden chances for a goal go begging,
Only able to forgive such contrived refusals to place ball in net because
Something tells them even now to anticipate the spectacular,
And their eager roar drowns out those faint murmurs of doubt.
As a romantic (and what true fan isn’t?) believes the best matches must,
This one is decided in stoppage time-
After some literal mucking about in the box, a striker finds a flash of
Momentary freedom, a brilliant flick and a cut and
Is felled by the center back’s challenge.
Every eye in the place points to the referee, the referee points to the spot.
The stands, once so united by shared
Anticipation, sees the unity dissolve upon its resolution.
The home side’s manager is most vocal in his disbelief,
Causing enough of a scene to merit his walking orders from
The defenseless, defensive official, tossing gasoline on the fiery crowd-
Insults are hurled between men, garbage is hurled onto the pitch,
You just hate to see that…
As bedlam wanes, the volume does not- the anticipation has returned.
The away captain steps forward, somehow finding his father’s words of encouragement
In a sea of jinxes and distraction and anxious sound.
He breathes, wipes his palms against chalk that has irreparably
Stained the crimson of his kit, initiates mental warfare in the endgame before
A stutter in the run-up sends the keeper sprawling as he coolly slots it far corner
And takes off in celebratory slalom, dodging teammates until midfield,
Where they finally succeed in dog-piling their dragonslayer to the tune
Of the three sweetest notes an official’s whistle could ever play.
And then the Red Fireballs pick themselves up, let their captain lead the line
As they shake hands with the Black Dragons in the center circle
Before running back to the sideline through a tunnel of their parents’ arms
And everybody on both teams gets a donut and a juice box.