Winning the Ball

They were just two little words,
significant only for a moment
to my friend, who uttered them.
But such honest appreciation, such
gratitude was in his voice
that I am still struck deeply in times when
I remember, reminisce
about how close we were as a team in
games, in battle, in action.
Never before had I felt emotion
so strong in a team-mate’s response to my
shouting. Momentarily
there was a peace, a calmness on the field.

The ball was cleared to safety.
My friend, the team’s full-back, had overcome
a great challenge. He had had
to push beyond what he thought he could do.
Only he could have done it.
But for an instant, both of us, we knew
he did not do it alone.

I had shouted, encouraged.
He had fallen away, lost faith in his
own abilities. He had
given up, trailing his opponent by
yards. “Go on, you can do it!”
He heard my call, and then he did do it.
He actually did it.
For half a moment he could feel like a

When he said “Thank you”,
I felt like one too.


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