Junior Soccer

You'd think the ball was a germ, the kids
exuberant antibodies swarming
to douse it with will, then finally
punish it toward the orange witch-hats goal.

My friend's daughter doesn't want us to know
she's eager for us to watch her jostle
her little body into the skirmish.
Her hair's an antenna for attention,

but she never turns, having learned to hide
childish reliance on Mom's esteem.
She still can't grasp the rationale of rules
or which of the brawling feet are on her team.

One boy, the coach's son, head-butts
the ball above a small astonished melee
of teammates contending with each other,
the younger kids intent on getting only

some piece of themselves to touch it,
like tongues waiting to catch the first raindrop,
the older ones more focused, their faces
braced: balanced surfaces of water.

The small girl who invited me here floats
to the sidelines, absentmindedly alone,
staring into the trees behind the school,
before she remembers again we're watching.


 



The Atlantic Monthly; November 1996; Junior Soccer; Volume 278, No. 5; page 78.


 

Presented by

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Entertainment

Just In