It was the nifty footwork that jolted me from sleep
Only half-believing that anyone would be up so early playing footy
apart from the serious types,
but then I suppose,
my bright-eyed charge could be one of those.

I turned to your Dad and asked what he thought.
Sleepy but obliging, he placed his palms
so much broader than mine
over the dark line
that the referees mind and felt
you dribbling your ball of the embryonic kind
as if it was the last game of the season.

And you drew us in, on tenterhooks!

Trying to track your passes and shuffles
swerving past defence and dodging the scuffles,
a flurry of knees, shins and diggedy heels…
That footwork!
On which celestial turf have you honed your skills?
Your one-twos and left-rights and juggling drills
“Man on!” we laughed, “Nutmeg, le petit pont!
We felt you playing harder, dribbling ever faster,
letting your kicks unfurl
defying your opponents who never had

a chance against
our little girl.

Then, as our cheers became infused with a ridiculous,
extraordinary pride,
There was a pregnant pause, and the game subsided.
Your Dad and I gripped each other tight,
hushed and expectant
while our other hands were glued side by side
on my warm rounded womb
where you waited

Lining it up…

For that massive femur flex, belly wobble ocean tide
amniotic waves sloshing up the sides
and hitting the palm of our curious hands
The best football player in all the lands!

and we cheered ever louder
and fell into each other
in the ruckus spurred on by our incredible daughter

I wonder if you’d be the sort
to fumble with your jersey and flash a cheeky grin
at the roar of the crowd, dying to run around the pitch and soak it all in.
Or the sort to nod silently at your coach, so’s no one else could see
head down and jog back into position,
ready for the referee.

Would you tingle from the rush, grow pink in the face
put your hand to your breastbone and feel your heart race?

Will you feel us there in the bleachers bellowing your name
Our hearts swelling, thumping and chanting
Go! Go! Ro! Ro!

You will always be our home team
Our midfielder
Our invisible scorer
Our lotus flower

Our eyes are half closed again now
Smiling on our way back to our dreams of you.