The Final Pass
By John James Reid
She held the ball for two and a half weeks,
unable to move, unwanting to pass.
Each breath, each save, knowing,
the game was almost over.
Her players, watching their Goalkeeper
In her final attempt to save herself.
Weakened, withered, wasted,
against a powerful pneumonic team.
White referees blowing warning whistles,
her players urging resistance in warm strokes.
In sort whispers, in heart-splitting days,
against choking strikes amidst the plays.
God, the saves she made in life’s days,
felling those ferocious frightening attacks.
Saving her players and their players too,
In courageous hard dives we all knew.
Standing back there alone, watching the world,
Her team of special players in front of her,
The penalty kick came late on as always,
With spectators hoping for extra time.
But the game ended as expected, to
An empty goal, a net of stark silence
She is gone, she is passed, defeated,
Exhausted in the final ward of her game.
In an almost empty stadium of life lived.
With her final pass. ♦
This poem appears in the June / July 2016 issue of Irish America.
About the Poet
Maureen Reid, one of the subjects of artist Colin Davidson’s exhibition about the human cost of the Troubles in Northern Ireland titled, “Silent Testimony” (April/May issue), passed away in March, 2015. To mark the first anniversary of her passing, her eldest son, John James Reid published a book of poems called The Goalkeeper.
Reid says his poems try “to capture some of the story of the trauma of 40 years of his mother’s life dealing with the grief of her husband’s loss and the domino effect on her ten children.”
Maureen’s husband, and father of their ten children James, 44, was killed on January 17, 1976, when a bomb was thrown into the Sheridan Bar in the New Lodge district of Belfast.
Dedicated to his nine brothers, Reed’s book was launched at a poetry reading night in the WAVE Trauma Centre in Belfast on March 24, 2016, where Maureen had worked as a volunteer helping people who had been injured or lost loved ones during the Troubles.
As to the title of the book, The Goalkeeper, Reed explains, “I had seven brothers and one sister who played soccer, and soccer became an obvious metaphor to unite some poetic words.”