Summer's lease hath all too short a date

Mystics versus Saint Neot at Saint Neot, 4th August 2011

I work some days and get drunk every night.
Waking at four to soundless dark I stare.
In time, the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Report deadline, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself try
To write it: and still the dread
Of Jim punching me in the head
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare; not in remorse
The game was fair, the contest even, I'm
Happy to report - but mainly just because
(One pair apart) our batting was a crime.
Save for its one big innings, we could never
Find any momentum whatsoever.
The swift extinction of Chris and Sam Cook too
Meant we were struggling always. Then Jimmy Ton,
Then captain Ernie - gone,
Sean too (bowled, no shot offering). Could this be true?

At 29 for 5 we were afraid
Who'll save the day? Matt Cook limped in to try
His vast, moth-eaten shirt from some decade
When Gentlemen and Players used to vie.
And with him to protect Mystic wellbeing?
A Chave so young he'd barely stopped self-weeing.
But young 'un showed no fear - and Matt had found
The perfect foil for his big shots to link with.
The straight size 6 that Fraser used to dink with
Took us to 132 when tea came round.

Sam and Jim bowled fast, with rare precision
The ball a speeding blur, but somehow still
The runs came even faster, till - incision!
Four down, the Mystics moved in for the kill.
But canny Graham Kent would not get out
And though Sean claimed a wicket (bowled without
Playing a shot - what's the likelihood?)
And Chris Cook's darts few scoring chances gave
(His flight almost concave)
Freeman and Kent were simply much too good.

One reverse sweep, and the result took shape.
It stood, plain on the scoreboard, just to show
What we had feared, we now could not escape:
Home as losers one side would have to go.
Meanwhile families packed away all their things
In freezing conditions, and all the long-suffering
Mystic supporters got up off their ass.
The pub packed out, jug filling was begun;
Drink had to be done.
Captains like nurses went from glass to glass.

Chris Healey

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