From Sidelights by Mark Pirie

The Ball

“i remember kicking
this ball around the yard

it was a tan rugby ball

i would spend hours
running up and down
the yard chasing
this ball while
avoiding those ‘scary hairy’ spiders
and ‘blood suckers’

and then one day
i asked mum where the ball
had come from

and she said it was from
my Grandpa

and to this very day
i always remember that ball
as the only piece of evidence
that my Grandpa existed.”

Portia Woodman

She’s in
the classic rugby mould
of backs who
are also sprinters.

Fit, speedy
and powerful players
who traverse the
touchline, midfield
and corners of the field
for tries and work.

This is half her nous
as with
athletic grace
catches balls,
with ease,
and stepping,
past defenders,
a deft skill-set

the line

to run.

(Written after Portia dotted down eight times for the NZ Black Ferns vs. Hong Kong, Women’s World Cup 2017)

Poems © Mark Pirie 2017