Personal

Heart And Soul … It’s All In The Game

Sport And Creativity Are Indivisible For Me

Oh what sweet madness is upon me once again?

Days short and shrinking off my 65th birthday … drifting and daylight dreaming here in the vast undulating striated marble pastures of my magical… magnificent North Beach waters … but lately drifting and daylight dreaming of my imminent return to playing indoor soccer … and working surreptitiously towards it …

All sorts of self-choreographed leg stretching and bending and flexing … going at it for longer and longer … my own private workout … the odd indifferent gull bobbing nearby, or seaweed shrouded jellyfish to hopefully evade …  

My friend Mark had asked if I was interested a few weeks back …

Said the game was a nice mix of older dudes like himself (he’s just a kid nearing 60), and the odd younger buck …

Sinking pints and drinking, thinking it might be nice … even possible ..

Sober again, and the ridiculousness of it all took root again

But just maybe …

Haven’t kicked a ball in two years or more.

Wasn’t able for a lot of that time …

Us older ones know well how every injury or ailment at this stage is serious, and take an age to heal … if they do.

Things you’d shake off in a day or two as a young ‘un seem to take forever to get over.

And genuinely serious injuries, well …

I did my ankle badly in my last indoor game … wrecked my Achilles another time — I actually heard a noise when it popped — months and months each time before they were anyway right ..

But recently … swirling and twirling in this invigorating ice bath that stretches to the horizon and back to the infinity of my thoughts, eyes closed and forehead burning in the orange glow beyond my salted lids … staying in longer and longer and feeling better and better …

Off course age and ailment have no dominion in this elemental other kingdom ..

And so thoughts and fantasies drift and bob in perfect harmony with wave and freed-up motion … diving down into the soundless world beneath the surface, and coming up again for air and rapture … 

Started with a few sneaky leg kicks and stretches … and now I have a whole series of kicks and hops and knee bends … and that old achy right knee feels stronger and freer, and I have noticed the absence of twinges …

There’s something within me that has never died … a passion for kicking a ball and engaging in a game that is always similar but never the same … familiar yet full of not yet imagined possibility and variation …

Different ways of scoring … a myriad simple splendid passes to cut out the centre half … a turn and lay off you’ll remember way longer than the wheezing sprint that preceded it, or the lung-gasping minutes to recover …

Sure I can’t run like the colt that was my unencumbered younger self … but I can still share with the boy still within the joy of suspended responsibility and present-moment exhilaration ..

My own boy has this inexplicable passion too ..

Just as I share more obvious affinities with my daughter in terms of a love of language and writing …

And now I see more how these two passions have combined in me …

I’m thinking of those inexplicable word images that coalesce around my undulating thoughts and slip out onto the page, as if they have come from someone, somewhere else …

And on the pitch … that perfect goal I scored all those years ago against the neighbouring college team … knew before I hit it exactly how it was going to play out … effortlessly calculated plane and elevation to evade the lanky goalkeeper’s despairing finger stretch and dip just under the crossbar … didn’t even have to look, I just knew it was going to be a goal of magical precision and felicity ..

I talk of my own achievement in such glowing terms because really, it was like someone else had conceived it and carried it out … a brief visitation from the gods of footballing perfection … like how even the world’s most average golfer can connect the odd time with a drive of thunderous perfection that would do justice to the greatest routine exponents of the game …

I now connect these seemingly diverse passions … the unfathomable fabric of creativity and soul expression that is woven into both activities …

Sure there’s the simple pleasure of just writing or playing ball, but these mysterious and unaccountable moments of metaphor and apposite execution of a game-changing pass, or scoring shot … it’s the closest thing to divine I will ever experience, maybe …

Sure I might end up with another rupture or in excruciating contortion, but there’s always the chance of another brush with rapture and beatific fulfilment.

And so here I am, the Morning After The Fright Before.

The fright that was my actual footie game.

Introduced to a lovely bunch of chatty, grey-haired, shaven headed men, except for my pal Mark with his impossibly sleek mop of perfect hair … well flecked now, but hair that makes older blokes — like me — jealous.

Thought I was quite fit, but my red face and aching limbs soon told me otherwise …

The ankle I thought had well healed … well it hadn’t, and I found even the easiest if turns and lay-offs difficult … mind and body at total loggerheads … seeing the passes, and the moves, but  …

I got better, but not a whole lot, and spent longer and longer stretches out of the way up front, but using my old football smarts to make loads of diagonal runs … hah, fast hobbles … to create space for others to score … you’d be surprised how effective this is especially against older bodies, and I was quietly chuffed at how many goals I was involved in, even if little by way of direct assists …

But hey, I was back ..

Okay, feeling like a prisoner in the wrong body, and at one point I can only think I was in some kind of oxygen-deficient delirium, as I passed neatly to a fellow from the other team, and laid off a beauty to a guy who wasn’t there … well he might have been 10 years ago …

Wheezing my way towards by beloved North Beach now, the backs of my thighs like they have cement bags attached to them, I am smiling and embarrassed …

I’m moving so slowly, that when I come out onto the main road from our estate, I have to wave on an ambling couple and their buggy, and in minutes they are out of view ahead of me ..

And then I dive into my wonderful, rolling, frothing  sea, and soon I’m floating and drifting, and daylight dreaming of my next footie game.

Will I ever learn? And do I even want to?

Thanks for reading — remember the blog, endastories.com!

About endardoo

A newspaper sub-editor for many years, I am now a blogger and freelance sub-editor. Husband of one and house daddy of two: a feisty and dramatic 17-year-old girl and a bright, resilient football nut of a boy aged 16. My website: endastories.com.

8 comments on “Heart And Soul … It’s All In The Game

  1. Good luck! I fear you’ll need it. Just don’t expect a call from Erik ten Hag any time soon – even Man U aren’t that short of recruits 😉

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  2. Hah … United are back!!

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  3. Good for you. I hope it goes really well and, yes, United are back…thank goodness!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that you can see some of your strenghts and interests alive in your son and daughter. You still write with the soul of a poet! Be careful, but have fun! and best of luck. Michele

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michele, good to hear from you… I’ll tell you one thing though, rival defenders have little truck with soulful poets😁😁

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  5. Hey Enda

    I knew you were older than me but, God knows, not that much. You always looked bloody well for a Tipp boy.

    Be glad you can run around and kick a ball. I’m sure Anne, Kelhan and Oran appreciate it (Sorry if misspelt names. Please understand I’ve been away.)

    You write magnificently. I learned so much from you in our time at IT. Appreciate how helpful you were. Such a pleasure knowing you.

    My best regards to you and family.

    – Jim C

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  6. Well, Jim, such lovely words and kind sentiments expressed… I’m just about to haul my aching carcass down to the sea… To recuperate, regenerate, and dream again. Hope you’re keeping well…

    Liked by 1 person

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