Muddy Shorts and Bloody Knees, Sweaty Shirts and Aching Legs

Amid these days of storms and cold I step beyond the warmth and comfort of home, of watching sport and Harry Potter. Well wrapped up and rubber-booted, bent against the wind I walk to the woods.

To enter I must cross a stretch of muddy grass.  And the memories return, of a English field,  wet and green, whitewashed lines, a gang of small boys in striped shirts, I one, shouting and running around chasing an oval ball.  The one grown-up, the games master, embodiment of Doctor Arnold’s Spartan muscularity, picks up the ball and runs, great knees pumping like pistons.  A sprinting steam train, he charges ahead, splitting the gang down the middle.  Brushing aside a Lilliputian tackle he heads for the line.  I am in the way.

He looks like he’s expecting me to move aside.  I want to move aside.  I try to move aside.  But I am the headlit rabbit and my feet are stuck to the muddy grass and I want my mum.  Unfortunately she’s not playing that afternoon.  Unfortunately it’s not a family frolic on a sunny beach. Unfortunately she is in South America.

I screw my eyes shut and hold out my arms.  A mighty thud and my world goes black, no time even for that draining instant before blissful unconsciousness.

In the darkness I hear distant cheering.  I feel my head is about to split as if repeatedly hammered with a blunt ax.  Then I hear a voice.  It starts a long way off then gets closer, louder.  An anxious voice.  A worried voice.  A voice of panic.

‘Wake up, will you!’

Another voice.  ‘He’s shamming.  Just leave him.’

And another. ‘Don’t move him.  Might have broken his neck.’

I sit up, feeling nauseous.  The games-master is crouching in front of me, big concerned face.

‘Are you alright?’

I nod.  He looks relieved and stands up.  ‘Well done,’ he says, ‘Excellent tackle.’

We play on.

I enter the woods.  Two magpies, three crows, twelve doves, and a squirrel in an oak tree.  Tea and fruit-cake in the café.  Then home, TV sport and Harry Potter.

About Kris Deva North

Author, Meditation Coach, Teacher of the Taoist Arts.
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