By Daniel Galvin

 

The team talk made no sense

offered by an aging decorator 

from the neighbouring townland of Drowndrew,

addled by paint fumes 

in his pink and white splattered pants. 

Seanie now silently broods in the dugout shade 

making love to a last cigarette  

but his rant still rings in your ears:

 

'These fellas are down from the city

with their socks pulled up 'round their knees

calling us farmers.

They don't know where their breakfast comes from in the morning.

Well I'll tell ye where it comes from lads:

FROM OUR FARMS DOWN HERE IN COURCEY ROVERS!'

 

They're all out today on the spectators' bank.

The men arm crossed furrow faced experts 

who hawk and spit between grunting critiques.

The women a gallery of clucking hens

before their sons set them squawking-

'Get it in!' 

'Get it out!' 

'Refereeeeee!'

 

The parish daughters: a thin row of tight denim.

The parish priest, looking strange without the pulpit.  

 

 

The opposition enters the field

jogging limply into position with white-strapped knee caps

and hurleys possibly plucked from an ash tree en-route. 

 

The man you'll be marking must be thirty-five-odd 

and his breath carries hot with old porter.

He squints in the sun as you scan him for weakness,

sweat gleaming on his forehead already

and still a bit wheezy from the warm up.

 

He asks- Were you out last night?

You tell him no. 

He looks troubled.

The wrinkled hems of his boxers poke out below his shorts-

another indication of inadequate skill.

 

The ref arrives late and overweight,

head high in dignity as he bounces to the line

while a fourth umpire has been conscripted from the pub.

To hoots from the bank he throws the white coat over his mass shirt

and sullies his Sunday shoes in the muck by the goal

for the parish.

 

A toot of the whistle

-someone screams 'gahaantafuknowlads!'

and the sliotar's released like a flaming spud.

 

You drop the first ball that springs your way

and a bodiless voice from the bank calls you to:

'Get the rag out!'

but you don't know what this means.

You're blown off the next one like an empty Tayto bag

and Seanie's alive again, marching ten feet onto the playing field

to request that you

'Get your finger out of your ass!'

 

Your man brushes against you,

you tense for the shoulder-

but now the fella's on his knees

spewing last night's Guinness through the face-guard of his helmet.

There's strings of spit dripping from the bars.

 

You look to the sky to thank Christ-

And Christ!

here comes the ball.

 

As you extend the receiving paw heavenward,

you think of the murmuring men

who will spit their approval

and the mitten-clad mothers

who will squeal in delight

and the skinny GAA girls

who might shift you tonight

and the off-duty priest

who will send you to heaven

and Seanie

who can fuck off anyway

 

and the leather bullet hits your palm

hot and unforgiving.

Miraculously, it sticks.

 

 

---

 

Daniel Galvin is a 22 year old writer from Co.Cork who lives in Galway. He has had his writing published by The Moth, Pulsar, Hidden Channel Zine and The Scum Gentry. He came first place in the Spoken Word Platform at Cuirt International Literary Festival 2017, and won the May Sunday Slam in Dublin. He will perform his poetry at this year's Electric Picnic. Daniel studies writing at NUIG and is currently working towards his first collection.