What I like most about five a side football is slumming in goal. When it’s my go I like to lean my tall back against the low crossbar, rest my arms either side, like a man about to launch into a swallow dive, and stare at the sky. The rest of the team don’t appreciate my Zen moment. “You are meant to try and save the ball Jet.”
But slumming on the goalposts is one of the simple and indulgent pleasures that highlight my week, like picking out the sugared raisins in a bowl of healthy muesli. It is purely because the rest of the team are so energised, trying to score goals, that my lack of commitment to saving them is so satisfying. I’m not a defeatist, I do want to win. But amidst all the winning and ambition there is a safe house of nonchalance There, in goal, I’m trapped within the game, thirty minutes each way. I can’t check my texts, write another short story, write another song, cycle to the shops, buy that thing, hop that scotch, deliver that important news. All I can do is wait in goal till its someone else’s turn to wait in goal. And it is a profound waste of wastefulness to let that moment pass unwasted. So what I do is I stare at the clouds. I’m not seeking meaning in them or some wacky abstract shape I’m just looking for the sake of looking; worthlessly, sensuously. In the dodgem car hustle of existence, this is the glorious second before the coin rolls into the slot and we zap about the funfair, ramming into our fellow man, like so much masochistic fodder.
Of course the rest of the lads don’t see it that way. They’ve started firing long range shots that ram straight into my body and not the net. And, well, we are there to play football… If I need a Zen moment I suppose I should lie in an empty field with the bumble bees. But the point is there are no goalposts in an empty field. And you need somewhere to rest your arms as the balls fire under your armpits. And your heart goes thumpety thumpety thumpety thump.