Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Knobby Knees

Yup. That’s me there with the beanpole legs and the knobby knees. I was the kid who always played defense. I had no nose for the ball – never went up front. Some kids are like that. I coach my son’s team and there comes a point where some kids just gravitate towards defending. It’s an instinctual choice.

My son, on the other hand, seems to have a preternatural ability to score. He’s a tall blond broad shouldered kid and at age six-going-on-seven, he’s faster than I am. He wears a red jersey almost identical to the one I’m wearing in this picture. I wore number 5 – he wears 25. In just about every category, he’s five times what I was at his age.

The other night I played in the weekly adult pickup game here in town. The other players are generally guys my age who also coach their sons. For the most part, they play better than me as do the small contingent of Latin American guys who seem to materialize as the game starts. By game’s end, I’m a wheezing lump of bones and I’ll be nursing the bruises of a series of collisions with larger guys that had sent me to the turf.

The other night, though, I made two strong hard strikes. Clear shots, both. One missed the goal on the left by a foot or so. The other hit the right post. I have no nose for the ball. In between these two disappointments, I mostly stuck to defense, jamming my ankles into opposing strikes, throwing my body into a shot against goal, taking molar-jarring headers to break up plays. I defend. It’s instinctual.

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