The dirty ball found our feet and was strung through the grunts and sporadic cheers
out wide and to open space; bodies fight for position arms raised, jerseys yanked
backwards, and headbands keep unruly hair out of alert eyes.
Minds and feet all move quickly and in unison – odd soldiers marching to the tempo
of the game – my eyes glaze, my swift feet stick in muck:
Columbia waters rush over the players who litter its path –
salmon struggling against the current.
The cold wind dies down and my involvement in the play dwindles,
the game around me blurs, cheering moms and friends die like a moan.
The field shrinks into a cemetery of stone and spotty grass.
Small bodies in red and blue move up and down the field, carried on short legs.
I have not seen these jerseys in years…
My U-12 teammates, my younger self struggles in the game I am watching:
every attempt at a pass picked off and forced back by the Mustangs.
The parents’ frenzied yells from the sidelines swell to my right
as my eleven-year old self makes a streak down the line,
crossing the ball to my team, game-winning goal.
In an instant, I am back in Des Little.
My senses flood: floodlights splay shadows over the field.
My teammates streak and cut in their jagged sprints again.
My sense of the game returns, I am no longer clumsy and stumbling.
I find space to play now and passes string together as my team’s efforts finally click
like the final puzzle piece finding its place amidst the others.
The goal comes and with it cheers and horns in the stadium and the usual smirk on Coach’s face.
This moment of nearly Epicurean delight brings such elation one would imagine the sheer energy
in the air can be felt by the President-elect high up in his Tower.
The final whistle blows not much later and we huddle together as if around a fire
and congratulate ourselves on a hard win.
Exactly where that final play came from I cannot tell for sure,
I only know that I have experienced it once before, on a field at Denton, years ago.