The child who played football out on home street. Child who I was. Whatever the weather, always out there. Kick-ups. Trick shots. Dribbling to the top of the road and then back down to the bottom. Dimples of tarmac felt through his shoes. Felt through his trousers at knee-caps post-tumbling; body-checked by unseen ghosts of mistakes. Demons leeching off our trying and our trials. Was always fuzzy on religion, that child. Despite or perhaps because of C of E education, singing hymns in church and trying not to kick the pew in front. Got up and didn’t cry off, not at that age, and kept on kicking the football. Would dedicate an hour or two as afternoon sank into evening, attempting to perfect the Cruyff turn, the Maradona turn, rainbow-flicking the ball up and catching it between shoulder blades and back of neck. Flicking it up again and trapping it between concrete and sole. Child wore, most practice sessions, a thin gold chain, affixed to which was a small gold football boot. Would take that ten-carat talisman between his hands, upon a string of failed attempts, and turn eyes skywards, whispering. Exact words that child said are lost now, but strong feeling they amounted to ‘Please’. Praying more to what he believed findable within him than to what he wasn’t sure was findable without. Tucking chain back inside T-shirt and, whatever the weather, carrying on.
Looking out the window lately, I do not witness football practice.
Worse still, I do not see myself.