Monday, December 17, 2007


I am sitting in bed, laptop in lap, mulling over what has forced me into the blogosphere: A bad day on the field. Maybe because I wasn't playing left wing, but left back? I spend most of the game on the bench - actually, not even: I was doing linesman duty - taking irritating screams from an unknowledgeable player on my own team, angry I wasn't calling the other team for offside (they were almost never offside, actually). The same player spent the better part of the last 20 minutes I was on the field yelling at me - to chase the ball, which actually isn't good advice, especially to a defender marking the better striker on the opponent's team. Others on my team were yelling, at me, at each other - I'd seen that sort of thing once before, when I helped out a co-ed team of lawyers in Santa Monica California - playing with them was about as much fun as working with them must be. Normally, I can tune that stuff out - when on the back four, I listen to the back four, to the goalie and those standing their ground, holding down the lead, starting the next attack. Normally, I can ignore busy-body forwards who like to imagine that nothing happens if they don't do it themselves.

What struck me, what moved me to log in, was how absolutely miserable I was after the game. Even though we won - a solid 4-3 win, with my team fighting back twice, once from two down (to nothing), and from one down. We were very scrappy on the field, and played optimistically - our striker just kept at it, until she was stiking from mid air high leaps, right over defenders and goalie. This was a team that had beaten my own (which I'd recently joined) earlier in the season by a humiliating 6.

Weirdly, I was down. So down I couldn't stay on for the bonding ritual over a pint at the club's pub. (Note: in the US, my home country, we never have bars in our athletic clubs!) I took the tube back to catch the last half of Arsenal v Chelsea at my local pub, The Holloway. (I had a wonderful moment walked from my flat to the pub - Arsenal scored, and I caught the sonic wave of the ecstatic crowd - hooray for Gallas - one of my favorite players!)

I was down because I spent most of the time watching and not playing, and I stepped onto the field stone cold (having been on the line, I couldn't warm up), found myself out of sync with my team, who were hot and bothered. I held my own - I don't think the player I was marking so much as got off a shot during those twenty minutes - though I saw more of the back of her than the front. I was down because I'm new to this team, and haven't had a chance to prove myself. I was down because I want more time on the ball, but know that as a newbie and an inexperienced player I don't have any right to ask for it.

Anyway, my bad mood lasted all night and into the next day. Soccer is like this - when it's good, it's like being in love - you are thrilled to be there, butterflied in the stomach as a game approaches - palms get all weird, and it's all you can think & talk about. Last week, I was up, up, up. And that happiness shaped everything I did for days. But when it's bad - even if you win - the sourness of that experience can poison your whole day. It's the mood of the field, the pitch of the pitch. The vicissitudes of the player's heart. The interior life of the substitute.

That's what this blog is about.

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