Rain & Year 7 Football Pain

There's normal rain
and there's that thick rain that smells like the belly of a Labrador
and aches like a first-thing-on-a-Monday football lesson outside in year 7,
the grit and grind of near-teen kneecaps on torsos,
the smack of elbows into little toes,
limping virgins running from fatherhood first thing on a Monday morning,
a football lesson they weren't prepared for as they'd been told to bring their indoor kit instead
so there were no studs on the pitch,
instead 20 pairs of Total 90s running around careful not to slip,
careful not to be that kid for the rest of the day who slipped in PE
taking a goal kick from the edge of his six yard box.

This rain is concrete when wet
and turns to building foundations when set
so instead of playing one long summer's afternoon football game stretching the entirety of the lesson,
coming back in to go home still in your kit with grass stains on your knees,
you play 3 games in the rain because brittle bones have a core of something stronger than this hardship,
because bared teeth, the chance of a good defence and tightly laced boots
can get you through most things life throws at you;
so 3 games is nothing,
just another speck of mud on the changing room wall,
another discarded sock somewhere in the shower block,
that slither of fossilized grass between and behind hair and ear
preserved in school-field, football mud,
your trophy from another great day,
match fit again and ready to play.

We wanted to be stars of the pitch,
the scream of dressing room coaches and line men,
the hum of ground,
of car park,
of burger van at the first service station out of town,
the vibration of chords on throats, chants and songs devised in pubs and in working men clubs,
the thrill of the team,
a joint effort, a forest not a wood,
that stomach kick of everything is going to work out alright, lads,
like walking into a bedroom after leaving to sign for a parcel
returning to find your partner in bed,
your forgotten and found again everything is going to be alright
wrapped up in duvet, in pyjama, in half 10 morning dew,
the rain from the doorstep trodden in,
set to stay.