Neil Slevin, My Ball

DODGING THE RAIN

It was Uncle Ronnie whose kick sent it into the Donegal sea. But I’m not sure he was even there.

I watched my ball land in the water, drift away from me. The spring current sucking it into the horizon. Bobbing there, it treaded water like a forlorn swimmer before it sank beneath the waves.

My ball’s flight had been so brilliant and so beautiful. Its landing and what followed knifed me.

I was sure I’d never see it again.

*

We left the seaside, me without my ball. And I didn’t play during that time. Aged 5, I just knew I had lost something.

Ronnie was the one who had played football, who had always played. I was the one who kicked and chased, always hoping for a soft landing.

The one who always got caught in the hedge, the brambles, the drain, hoping his ball wouldn’t fall too…

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