Little Kids Always Get to Be Goalie

Lives have hinged on less.
My Dad in front of the television
with inexhaustible beer,
a mess on his office shirt,
and that faith known as the Leafs.

I learned hockey at that altar,
learned of sports metaphors of war
and blood-thirsts and thirsty,
of hunger. My own part:
I’d put my brother in oversized pads
and shoot, merciless, on the looming net.
We’d stop if I hurt him –no tennis ball
for us, the heavy Orange orb bought
from Canadian Tire- and resume play
when he got up, slapping the old Sher-Wood
on the asphalt.

And it is no irony that my father,
static, still watches the game on Saturdays,
that my brother grew up to be the pro player,
having learned toughness at the end of my stick,
how to compete at “a higher level.”
I exchanged those old metaphors, though,
all those alliterative sports announcer phrases
like “precise pass” and “shattering shot”
for the same old metaphors:
the club rivalry with girls,
the battles with my boss,
the career-ending injuries with those I’ve loved,
and realized my beer-stained Dad,
at Saturday service,
was a kind of goalie,
sitting in his armoured couch,
protecting us from metaphors.

~ Shane Neilson

Shane Neilson is to be published by Biblioasis in 2009.

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