My kid plays soccer in the school’s co-ed soccer team. She is in 6th grade and the team consists of 6th through 8 grade students. All fine and dandy, nothing wrong with that.
Except my child likes to be the goal keeper.
Why? That is the million-dollar question, but she looks mighty fine in her big gloves and goalie outfit. I beam: I am so proud of her.
The game starts and the Tigers play fierce. Lots of ball activity on the blue side of the field. Good. I glance up at my girl in the goal. She is following the action with her eyes, even although she is far away from it.
The green Tigers try to score, but Blue intercepts the ball. Green gets it back before the mid line. This goes on for a while.
Then Blue sees an opening and a huge girl in blue dribbles the ball past all Green defense.
My girl is alert and ready, her arms in front of her, her legs move her body from left to right.
I feel confident: she got this!
Another huge person in blue comes closer to the goal, Green tries to catch up, but the big kids in blue pass the ball, one kid kicks the ball with enormous force straight towards the goal.
The goal, where my youngest child is.
‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOO’ I want to scream. I want to run out there and protect her. From these big kids, from that ball that is coming at her at a zillion miles an hour. But I am frozen, biting my shirt that I pull halfway over my face.
My eyes are just little slits; I can’t bear to watch.
Only my ears are on high alert, registering every sound. A thunk and loud cheering. Did she miss? No, the cheers come from the Green Tiger supporters. I hear someone yell out: “Nice save!”
I let out a big breath. Didn’t notice I had been holding my breath this long. My daughter places the ball in front of her, walks confidently back a few steps and runs towards it. With a mighty kick she gets the ball almost halfway on the field.
Blue is defending, Green attacking. I am still trying to regulate my breathing. “Please, keep the ball on this side”, I quietly think.
But then I look at the other goalie. A tiny boy in blue. His gloves are big on his hands; his shirt looks huge. He reminds me of a scare crow. Beautiful longish blond hair. He looks nervous, but alert. I am closer to this goal and more aware of the expressions. Tension, concentration.
A hustle is going on between Green offense and Blue defense. The ball rolls in the goal keeper field. He looks so relieved. He grabs the ball and throws it back in.
It doesn’t make it far: Green has possession and aims for the goal. I look beside me.
A mother, chewing her nails, almost closing her eyes. The shot gets intercepted by defense, and the ball rolls gently towards the goal. He grabs it.
I hear her sigh. “Your son?”, I ask, pointing my head towards the goal.
“Yes”, she answers. “It’s hard to watch.”
I nod and look at the other goal, far away from us. “My daughter”, I say. We give each other a look. We understand, no further words are needed.
I walk closer to the middle line, but no further. I don’t want to get too close, in case my motherly instincts do kick in and I will run in front of that ball to protect her. The other goalie’s mom follows me a bit.
“It’s easier over here”, I say, “When you can’t really see their facial expression.”
She nods. Again, we understand each other.
My daughter has a few more awesome saves and one that couldn’t be saved. Green might need to work on defense a bit.
Her son lets in one as well. In the end it is 2-1 for Blue, but the Green Tigers play well. Finally, the long shrill whistle I have been waiting for.
I feel my body relax a bit and before I turn around to go see my child, I feel a hand on my shoulder. “Only 6 more weeks”, the Blue mother says.
I smile a tiny smile. “Only six more weeks”, I repeat quietly.
“Only 6 more weeks.”