The Ball

Fiction By Vince

The following article was originally written for the radio format.  However only your imagination prevents use elsewhere.  I, for instance, might try it on a pizza with a little olive oil.

The piece was written as a submission for a BBC radio writing request held during the 2006 football World Cup.  In all the BBC received over 1100 entries but much like the England team my entry didn’t make the finals and The Beeb decided not to broadcast my efforts.  The fools.  It is only two to three minutes in length so it should not take you long to judge for yourself whether they were on the ball or off the pitch.

As the author, I, not the BBC, own the copyright to this entry and will defend my right to the ©  If you wish to distribute, perform or publish this article have the decency to contact me first.  However, if you wish to link others to this webpage then I shall feel honoured.

Also, look out for other submissions I made using the titles ‘The Dog’, ‘The Driver’ and ‘Turnstile Girl’.

Here we go!  Here we go!  Here we go!

That’s all I’m hearing lately.  It’s alright for the fans and those infuriating footballers but speaking from my particular point of view I’d be happy to stay where I am.  I do realise that hasn’t been the view of all balls in this World Cup, flying here there and everywhere, but personally speaking I’d rather just sit here on this grass lapping up the sun.

You see, being a ball in the World Cup isn’t all it’s made out to be.  I recall discussing this with my grandfather, a leathery old sort who claimed to be at the World Cup in 1966 when England won.  He said us balls have it made now, what with our lightweight construction and weatherproof coating.  Not like in his day when they had to carry half a rainstorm with them in the wet and constantly ran out of puff.

Granddad claimed to be in the actual final that year.  Well he would wouldn’t he.  They all do.  Mind you, he tells a convincing account of how he swerved to get Geoff Hurst his second goal.  He thinks that he changed the course of history but I feel that’s going a bit too far.  Could I change what happens in this game?  Could I help to change the course of history?  Well possibly, but I really can’t be bothered right now.  Those boys have stopped kicking me about for a while now so I’m happy to take the rest.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not always on the move.  Agreed, sometimes I get kicked up and down this pitch so often I get dizzy and end up spinning past the side line.  At least I get a rest now whilst one of my mates takes over.  Granddad reckoned he had to keep going the whole match.  At least he had a good long retirement afterwards, sat in some warm cabinet for the rest of his days.  I’ll probably end up on e-Bay.

That happened to one of the guys the other day.  Booted right up in the stands he was, then smuggled out under some chap’s sweaty shirt.  Think about it, would you like that?  Not nice at all.  I expect he ended up being kicked against some concrete wall by an ungrateful kid.  I think of that every time I get hoofed up there myself.  Mind you, most of the time up there in the stands is good.  I quite enjoy that pleasant ride around the stadium jumping from fan to fan.

I would like to be on the pitch at the end of the match though.  Just think, picked up by the ref, then onto the changing rooms to have all those signatures added – I think that looks real smart.  Or, even better, I’d love to be involved in an actual goal.  Granddad said he scored them all, even the German ones that day, but nowadays there are so many of us involved that actually getting in the comfort of that net would be a real privilege.

What I need is a Beckham free kick, and then I’ll be straight in there.  Oh, yes, you didn’t realise that did you?  We are the ones responsible for bending it, not Beckham.  Legend has it that when he was very young he pulled an unloved ball out of a river and gave it a new lease of life.  He loved that ball so that is why we love him.  Even the way he caresses his foot on our side, it’s a magical touch and we always respond when he gets involved.

Hello, we seem to be moving.  My rest in the grass seems to be over.  Whatever they were all arguing about seems to be sorted out.  So where do we go from here.  Oh, it looks like I’m being placed down again.  And fantastic news, the grass here is white, I’ll just roll about a bit… Oh yes, definitely it’s a spot – I’m going to take a penalty.

Now, who is it taking the shot?  I need to decide whether to go sideways, or up.  Some wag I know reckoned they did this to Gareth Southgate in an important England match, reckoned that he punctured a ball when he was a kid.  That’s murderous talk to a ball.

Oh, I’m replaced back on the spot.  Just time to check out the keeper and pick a side.  Concentrate now.  About to be whacked.  Here we go….

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Fiction section of the website dated 21 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 in Dec 2006

Written July 2006 and submitted to the BBC as part of a radio script submission request