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A Bit Too Far

A Bit Too Far


To all his experience he would now turn, if he was to prevent

The unthinkable, the upset.  How unlike the first sixty minutes

Had been the last eighteen.  As no injuries had impeded the play,

The game clock fairly apprised all of the time remaining in this clash.

While the champion knew this, worse, he knew the upstarts did too!


The “machine” he called his forwards were resolute.

During the conversion, that unbelievable kick into the fiercest of winds,

His captain, the Loosie, had suggested the restart go to them.

The logic was simple, don’t give the upstarts space; they had to concede

Possession, but not the momentum or the advantage kicking brought.


When that rock of a man, that prop, suggested something,

The champion had learned to listen, for they were both warriors.

Despite young ages, each had played many seasons, won many tests.

The prop had seen the upstarts were tired, fit, but tired nonetheless.

He too had seen this weakness to exploit with the one last required kick.


This kick would end it, the next stoppage certainly would mean Full Time.

His mates in the backline had taken all they could handle and more

In the past eighteen minutes.  It was a half he wanted to forget, soon.

So this kick to his pack would do it, there would be a flurry to follow,

Undoubtedly a possession or two thereafter, but this kick would end it.


Even though they had just scored, these lads were spent.

The months of training were evident, but they were still gassed.

Their opposite marks, to a man, had been proving why they were number one.

But they were also showing they were not unbeatable, not invincible;

As they stared at each other awaiting the conversion, they KNEW this.


The last try had been a work of art and a stroke of luck.

The genius of the effort overshadowed only by the determination

Of each who had handled the ball in those furious, endless possessions.

The luck that the rock was set down in goal so close to touch

Had come to those who created it, to those who had made their luck.


The tension as the referee had consulted with the line judge

Now seemed like a century ago, likewise the exhilaration of the awarded try.

Still down by six, the clock racing to eighty minutes, there was no hope . . .

Or was there . . . The kicking tee used kissed the touch line, it had been

That close, the gusty wind made the angle, already sharp, impossible.


But improbable was a word they also knew, with it came a chance.

Their kicker had the leg for it, this he had shown many times before.

As the attempt left his foot, the sound confirmed he had struck it well.

They each strained to catch any nuance of a reaction,

Any foreshadowing of success or failure he might display.


The upraised flags confirmed the once “impossible” had in truth been,

Only difficult.  Their prayer no “Full Time whistle” shrilled was next answered.

As referee the successful conversion duly noted, hope exploded within them.

They could do this - - Now - - They had their one, last chance.

The first seventy-nine minutes were history, the next one, an eternity.


Upstarts indeed, the pre-game hype, which all season long fermented

Had given them little chance, it had also provided enormous incentive.

The moment was here, it was theirs for the taking, but could they . . .

Their grim stares gave each the answer they sought.

The impossible, improbable, difficult kick gave them the lift they needed.


As they marked the champions, they knew Full Time was Now.

One mistake and they were done, touch was not an option.

When the restart was struck, it was clear to both packs

That this was to be their ball, it was mano-a-mano time.

Champions and Upstarts alike were all wrong, save one!!


The kick had been intended for the pack, it was headed for the forwards.

Maybe it was the wind, maybe adrenaline, maybe fate . . .

All but one misjudged it, none but one saw it was “A Bit Too Far”.

His number, thirteen, did not an ill-omen portend as it did to so many

“Normal” people or the superstitious numerologist, it was just his position.


His skill saw the opening, his experience the weakness.  Sure the champs

Were fit, but they too were tired, more than they might think or admit.

With pace he was moving as boot met ball, for he KNEW

Where that kick was going and that he would be the one to grab it.

For this day was their day, this time was their time, this ball was his.


As he watched the catch being made, the Spectator saw the Look.

He had seen that Look in his son’s eyes before, he KNEW that Look.

How fast a parent can pray for a child’s success depends not

Upon any law or limitation known to man or recognized by science;

Light cannot travel at the speed needed to stop such pleas.


Long ago he had realized God was as blind to Sport as He seemed to Life.

Still his prayer this moment for sure hands and swift feet was made.

For good measure he prayed for victory for the others, the teammates too.

This rider he hoped selfishly would ensure the grantability of his real request

By a deity whose history of responses to his prayers were too often “No”.


In slow motion, or so it seemed, did the following seconds stretch.

Dad saw the familiar Look, the one his offspring denied, the one his coach and

Teammates loved, the one about which his opponents learned, often too late.

With each stride after the catch, the Look became more intense;

As he cleared the first wave of defenders, all of a sudden the upset looked doable.


Whether missed tackles or clever feints, suddenly there was only one

Man to beat and just as suddenly he too was passed.  Pursuit angles were

Useless as his speed was obviously going to get him into goal untouched.

The Victory, The Upset, now waiting only for the final whistle to confirm

The conclusion which had, in the blink of an eye, become foregone.


He set the ball down in goal for the winning score

Not between the posts as was his trait, but off center a bit

To burn up the odd second or three more,

To stay on his feet, to turn up-field to survey pursuers and

Teammates alike, to exhibit his joy at a job well done.


Broad was that smile, no longer the Look nor grim stare

Of desperate determination, no longer hopeless; instead there was   

The joy which comes from succeeding against all odds, from

Fighting the good fight, to the last, the bitter or sweet end. . . .

This was the smile which beamed so bright, this was the reason he played.


John R. Wallace

307 Richardson Court

Mill Valley, CA  94941


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