Kerry Deutsch

My Backyard Stadium


I am still out on the field, dribbling in between the players, sweating in my shiny, thick-collared jersey just like they are.  They sprint toward me at full speed with teeth clenched, forearm and neck muscles bulging and contracting with each step.  I have to push foreword, I have to keep up the speed.  I focus on the empty glass ahead of me, not concentrating on the crowd or the players behind me.  My pace quickens even more, I am breathing faster than I am running.  My face becomes cool in the wind but is warmed again by the sun.  My legs tighten as I start to feel the grass under my shoes, the pounding sends waves of pain through my body, and I clench my fists and teeth.  My eyes are wide open.  The cheers are replaced with the wind passing by my ears.  The grass and the crowd turn into a fuzzy whirl speeding past me.  The net is nearing; the goalie comes into sight, he bends his shaking knees, his face serious but slightly worried as he stretches his gloved hands out in front of him with elbows bent widely toward the posts.  My heart pumps fast, I can feel the ball struggling to keep up with me, I feel it spinning backward against my leather cleats like a mechanical shoe shiner.  The players behind me are gaining, their shadows running next to me when I look away from the ball.


My pace quickens even though I can feel the wind scraping my throat, but I keep my eyes on the goal.  The three frames become the only thing that is clear.  I see the glint of the posts and the outline of the net, I take a shot, and the slightly deflated ball leaves my dirty sneaker pressing the laces into my instep as dust swirls into my face.  But the goalie disappears, so does the crowd and the shadows that were following me, I no longer feel the thick, itchy collar of the shiny uniform and the spikes of the leather cleats; the stadium is gone.  The even, green grass disappears and is replaced by uneven grass with dirt spots; the goal is there, but it becomes something different.  The white net turns blue and holes appear; the clean, thick posts become covered in dirt and shrink.  The ball enters the net peeling and dirty.  I feel the sweat on my face and dirt on my hands and the worn-down sneakers I have been wearing.  A thin fence appears with sharp, curling edges and rusty dirt-covered wires which become a ghostly entrance to webs of dead branches and insect-infested logs in an unfathomably dark forest that lies behind it.  In front of it, a small, dirt-covered goal with a blue net that has at least three holes in it, sits on top of a dirt patch and, in front of the wire fence, in my backyard.



Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.