Tom J. Mariani

Rookie (January 1948 / San Francisco, CA)

Soccer: My Best Foot Too Far Forward - Poem by Tom J. Mariani

I have to go back a bit
To tell this story
Freshman year of college
PE classes were mandatory

Somehow each semester
You had to fit one in
To the burden of other classes
You had to carry gym

It was only for an hour
Twice or so a week
Cut too often and
You were up a creek

Hours in registration lines
No on-line to be on yet
Dennis and I checked our schedules
For an open slot that met

Friends for a long time
We were looking for a sport
We could both sign up for
Open field or indoor court

We both had jobs
That made it harder
Had to pay my own way
Parents provided room and board in the barter

We found a day and time
We figured we could meet
A sport we never tried
Soccer to teach us to use our feet

We got all signed up
Then headed to get some eats
'Hey Dennis said, 'Ya know
We're gona need some cleats.'

No clue of the need for shin-guards yet
We'd never seen a game before
Only rule we knew was no hands
Running and kicking was there more

We bought a book on how to play
Split the cost just bought one
Read it all before first class
We were ready to practice and run

That we did ran drills and hills
It's all he'd let us do
'Don't play to get in shape
Get in shape to play on my crew.'

Weeks went by and still no game
We didn't sign up for that
We kicked so many pratice balls
I was sure they'd all go flat

Then the day finally came
Pick sides to play and score
I asked for center forward
I was ready for war

Whistle blew I kicked the ball
As far and hard as I could
I mentioned I'd never seen a game
Coach screamed, 'Is your head made of wood? '

Instead of 'pitching it to a mate'
I played it the Americn way
He had me running extra hills
Before he'd again let me play

He figured the offside rule
Also didn' t register with me
I was now a fullback
'How you screw this up we'll see.'

Dennis tells this story
Like it was yesterday
Reminds me I hold the school record
Distance in a kick off to my dismay

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Poem Submitted: Friday, November 2, 2007

Poem Edited: Thursday, April 21, 2011

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