Alley Cricket - Poem by Patrick Ladbrooke
Thompson took the crease;
with broken pallet plank in hand,
tapped at the cracked concrete.
Smith bowled, right arm over dustbin
the delivery invisible in the dim street light.
Thompson played defensively,
fending the flint cobble from the back door.
Time running short, runs were needed, but
Smith's guile in bowling from the shadows
pinned him back,
time and time again,
thwarting that perfectly timed shot.
Then a loose ball pitched just outside the gutter.
It reared up and tempted Thompson to the drive.
The resounding crack of flint on pine
sent fractured missiles flying through extra cover
which turned out to be a greenhouse.
Rows of bedroom windows lit in celebration and unusually,
both bowler and the batsman
took the run,
beyond the long on boundary.
A spectator in his lofty commentary position,
high above the broken panes,
cried out that ultimate of accolades.
But Smith and Thompson were almost out of earshot.
Running. Running from their last of school days.
Running through the summer darkness,
Friends charging to uncertainty,
knowing who they'd been
not knowing who they were to be.
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