Short stories

Match Report

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

Roy Keane

Darwin Hill.   27/8/2020

13:01: The score is twenty-one nil. I missed my vocation. Yes, it really is twenty-one nil. I should be doing something else, maybe teaching literature. The pitch is a mud bath. The wind is coming down off the mountains with unmitigated thuggery. The rain is torrential and is oscillating with hail.  The epicanthic folds are being hammered. The sun is nowhere to be seen which I might add is typical for this time of year. Goal! There is one supporter and he is cheering for both teams while repainting an advertisement for a local plumber. I should be in Paris, smoking a pipe, drinking coffee, and discussing Lacan and Barthes. If I were on the pitch I would drift away. I want it to end. Blow the whistle, please. Oh, referee that was a pen. Surely. Terrible error by the referee. Some feign injury. Some instigate a red card. Some are exhausted. Ennui would get me. The ball is played down the left. The left-winger dribbles, makes space, and sends ball into the heavens. Bloody awful. The game continues.

14:45: Goal! The ball is thrown in and is once again kicked out. The writer Marguerite Duras would repeatedly ask the playwright Brenden Behan to take her to an Arsenal game in London. Behan after saying yes would forget Goal! on account of too much drink.

16:02: The ball is stuck in the mud. The actor John Wayne took a day off filming Brannigan in London and went to a West Ham football match. There he had one too many drinks and ended up in a fight. It is now legendry with the West Ham crowd. The philosopher Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein when not teaching or marking or talking could be found in the local cinema admiring John Wayne. During the First World War Goal! when not masturbating, he enjoyed a good game of football with his peers. He played inside left. He was a dirty player. But not as dirty as the director Pier Paolo Pasolini. He was a great defender, solid, great ball control, could run all day, could run through walls. 

17:03 The writer Albert Camus protected the onion bag. (Football slang). Three players of the same team are down and in need of the magic sponge. (Cynical football slang). The reason Camus played goal-Goal!-keeper and not a centre forward or a winger is because of the role the goalkeeper has in the Team. (A reminder 11 players on each time, for our American Cousins). The goalkeeper is a solitary figure. An existential antihero. A goalkeeper is cold, aloof, cerebral. Plus, I might add, he wears a different shirt to the rest of the team. Camus was cool. Our keeper is a sad Sisyphus. Plus, I might add, Camus enjoyed a cigarette and he played behind a very tight defence.

18:05: Scintillating play by the right-back. So close! Still waiting. The writer Samuel Beckett elected cricket Goal! and rugby over football. Although, he did follow Luton. The referee has lost his glasses both literally and metaphorically. Beckett Goal! said he was waiting for Luton to win the league. We are still waiting.

19:01 There is half a yard between a nutmeg and a bicycle kick. The writer George Orwell after his visit to Wigan told the writer Rayner Heppenstall that Wigan would be a powerhouse one day just like Manchester Utd and Liverpool and when Heppenstall laughed and mocked Orwell on hearing this proclamation Orwell beat him up with a shooting-stick Goal! Oh, number nine is going to see red now. Yes! He’s going to have an early bath. (Football mockery).

22:00: The painter Francis Bacon took the writer William S Burroughs to a Chelsea football match and admired the legs and violence of Chopper Harris and during the game Bacon had to remind Burroughs that Chopper Harris was not Sir Arthur Harris. Goal! The man famous for almost killing Kurt Vonnegut.

33:03: The writer David Markson could never decide if he enjoyed soccer Goal! or not and so asked the writer Malcolm Lowry if he should follow soccer. (Soccer hahaha). It’s a funny old game. Now remember, Lowry was born in Liverpool and football in Liverpool is a religion.  You are born into a cult. Unless you are an Everton fan. They are giving one hundred and twelve and two thirds percent. Ouch! Of course, said Lowry, and so Markson even though he could never decide if he enjoyed soccer or not always chanted for Liverpool.

41:23: The dancer Rudolf Nureyev taking it one game at a time turned down the chance to play for the USSR and because of this refusal to play, he was an outstanding winger we are told, his three sisters were forced to weightlift and grow beards.

46:00: Half Time.  Sliced oranges and cigarettes.   

45:00: The writer Jack London while undercover in the East End of London for his book The People of the Abyss played one game in Goal! goal for the Hope & Anchor Pub but it was a complete failure he could not make up his mind to throw the football or kick the football. 

55:02: The writer Vladimir Nabokov loved playing goal Goal! keeper while at University of Cambridge. He said: “I was crazy about goal keeping. In Russia and the Latin countries, that gallant art had been always surrounded with a halo of singular glamour. Aloof, solitary, impassive…”

67:02: The writer Daniil Kharms Goal! while playing midfield Goal! slipped on an orange peel and broke a leg. The keeper had that covered.

74:56: The writer Jean Rhys supported West Brom and the writer Jane Austen supported Bath and the writer Ann Quin supported Brighton and the writer Bridget Brophy supported QPR Goal! and the writer Anna Kavan supported Goal! Fulham. The writer Virginia Woolf dressed as a man fooled them all and played striker for Manchester City and scored an hattrick and took the ball home with her.

81:45: The writer Ferenc Molnár thought about a game of football Goal! instead of war when thinking about his book The Paul Street Boys but Hitler changed his mind.

 83:03: Oscar Wilde for being a big Goal! lad was good with his feet.

85:23: The writer B.S. Johnson’s best work is inside the Goal! box. Sorry about the pun, a sport writer’s curse, The Unfortunates.

86:01: Clarice Lispector found her voice while watching the Great Pele destroy team after team Goal! during the 52 World Cup.  

89:01 Weighty heads and buckling knees and beating chests. Goal! Shouted words expanding and contracting. Goal! Goal! The old man and his dog ( an euphemism for the last of the fans) have gone home for supper (beer). Goal! The fat lady is warming up “tra ler tra ler tra ler.” Goal! The referee has the whistle in his mouth but is too exhausted to push the air through the damn thing and make a noise. The game continues. It is now squeaky bum time (Sir Alex Ferguson). Goal!

96:23: Wait! What? Really? What a comeback! Who would have thought it? It really is a game of two halves! What a beautiful game!  Twenty-two! Twenty-three! and a bag of wind! Watch a match! Truly amazing! Pure poetry! POETRY!  I love this game! Love it! See you next Saturday.  

Paul Kavanagh

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