Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Caught in a Crossfire 4

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(This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental)


Chapter Four

"Get me trees, get me TREEEEEES!!!! Mr Tobias was yelling, ignoring the fact that about half a dozen kids were sprinting towards the bushes to tear off branches for his use on me, he was stamping the ground, like a kid in the middle of a tantrum. The balcony of the female quarters  was packed with female spectators, watching the drama unfolding on our football pitch. 

Embarrassed, my heart racing, I picked up the pace of my walk towards him, determined to reach him before anyone handed him what he was screaming for.. I didn't want someone thrusting a tree branch into his hands as I reached him either, so my pace was quite brisk. The reason for his anger I was sure, was because I hadn't presented myself to him to be formally and humiliatingly kicked off the soccer team. My reasoning gave impetus to my courageous march up to Mr Tobias to make a bold statement.

"Listen sir," I said, "my family sent me here to study, not to play football."  I was echoing my dad's sentiments, comments made to me during so many holiday periods, especially those times when my grades fell below expectation. "I am NOT going to be flogged by you," I looked him in the eye as I continued, "it would be much better all round if you just give me permission right now to go to the dormitory and pack my things. I don't want to be in your school anymore, I'm also going to need a refund on my fees, you just wait till I get home and tell my old man you tried to beat me up on the football field over nothing.

Atob( the nickname we gave Mr Tobias) looked stunned, staring at me with a jaw dropping stare, he stood like that, eyes bulging for a good two minutes, even ignoring the student proffering a wicked looking tree branch toward him, then he snapped out of his stupor and pointed towards the goalposts. He growled, spittle forming on the edges of his mouth, "get in the goal, from now on, you are the school goalie, you stupid boy".

So I got demoted. You see in our school team, we had very good players but no goalie, most of us players were above average. We got good results on the soccer field because we had a knack of scoring more goals than the opposition could score against us, but we conceded goals very easily, we'd always had a leaky goal. 

Shrugging my shoulders, I casually strolled toward the sticks, a bit wary because I wasn't in the correct kit to be playing soccer, especially goalie. I was in my good clothes but wasn't going to push my luck. The amount of stick I was going to get later at the footballers table during supper was my only worry. In our team, the goalkeeper is at the bottom of the pecking order and usually is the butt of our jokes. Unsurprising considering what past goalies had let in.

I was a couple of feet from one end of the sticks when I heard someone yell my name, I looked up and saw a thunderous shot heading at what seemed to me an incredible speed towards the far post. All I can remember about what happened next, still seems unbelievable to me today. I found myself in mid air at full stretch as the tips of my fingers parried the ball wide off the goal line. 

Furious at the mud now all over my clothes, I didn't register the commotion going on all around me, a balcony of girls jumping up and down, spectators around the field jumping up and down, running about like mad people shouting. Suddenly it dawned on me, the shot I just saved must have looked so fantastic. 

The players milled around me with that look that tells you whether you like it or not, you are officially our goalkeeper. Even Atob Tobias was smiling at me and commiserating about my ruined clothes, he yelled for a junior to go and fetch my footballing kit. This was the beginning of another chapter in my life, but I didn't know it at the time. I was still enjoying all the attention of a grateful school putting all their footballing hope in little me. It started with a lot of shouting and yelling "We have a goal keeper!" 

The start of a whirlwind adventure had been pencilled into my destiny. It took me on an incredible roller coaster ride that was fraught with danger if it ever derailed. But it was an exciting time, in a giddy sort of way...

Someday, I'll tell you about it!

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