“It is very happily and kindly provided,” writes Dr. Johnson, “that in every life there are certain pauses and interruptions, which force consideration upon the careless, and seriousness upon the light; points of time where one course of action ends and another begins; and by vicissitude of fortune, or alteration of employment, by change of place, or loss of friendship, we are forced to say of something, this is the last.”
Today is the last soccer game for my son Joseph, or at least at the last one at St. Andrew’s. The last game of his high school career, and the last one he’ll play in Sewanee. If he plays again, it will be in college, or on a club somewhere later in his life. And it’s too bad this one had to be the last, really. The first game of the division championship, St. Andrew’s should have beat Grace Baptist handily. They went up by 2 in the first half, and then somehow got tied on PKs. SAS roared back with a third goal that the Baptists improbably matched. Into overtime it went–two ten minute halves that the Mountain Lions dominated–and then into sudden death. Then, a lucky chip over the defense to a Baptist player, who dribbled it in to win. Their fans went wild, and we stood slack-jawed. It was over: the game, the season, the whole thing.
Our boys ran across the field one last time, and through my own, I could see the tears in their eyes. I have always said that I watched Joseph play soccer through two sets of eyes–my own, and my father’s. Dad was a natural athlete who did it all: baseball, hockey, football, basketball, boxing. You name it. Joe inherited his athleticism from him. My own gift seems to be skipping–as in, skipping a generation. My father died some years ago, but I knew that, if he could have, he would have loved watching Joe play. I went to as many games as I could, because I could. But now there will be no more. In a few weeks he will graduate, and in a few months after that, head off to New England for college. His whole life is ahead of him, and I am overjoyed about it. But for now, all I see is that graceful young man trotting over the green toward me. He stops, and turns, and is gone.