Aaron Barry

A Defining Moment


All I do is win. This is the only thought which circulates my mind as I approach the ball. I confidently pick it up. It feels heavier than usual, perhaps it is the weight of expectation. Ninety minutes had been played, all of which was incidental if I could put the ball into the net from twelve yards. But I am a winner, I assure myself, so the trophy is as good as mine. The only question which remains is; should I go left or right?
 
I grip the ball between two sweaty hands and approach the spot. The cold air gnaws at my ears. Suddenly, I feel multiple eyes on the back of my head. I allow myself a glance back at the sideline, packed with proud mothers and fathers wearing numerous coats to deflect the hungry cold. They are expectant. They know that I am a winner and that I will shortly provide them with euphoria. And so I stride through the mud and place the ball on the spot. I twist the ball so that the Nike logo faces me. Should I go left or right? I feel the indecision become an irritant.
 
I remind myself that penalty-taking is a central element to my greatness. My greatness has grown to become the main contributor to my status as a winner. I recall the moment of epiphany in which I had found the origin of greatness. It seems like a long time ago. I close my eyes to clearly recall that moment.
 
A teacher of considerable reputation instructed the class to stand up. I sighed, as we all had. “Hands in the air” he commanded, “high as you can”. A moment of confusion followed by his impatient encouragement led us to throw our hands vertically above us. We had shared many uneasy glances. “Now” he continued, “put them higher up”. And we did, stretching to our maximum. We were told to sit down. “People will operate in their comfort zones”, he explained. I looked up. “When you go outside your comfort zone to complete any task, to escape the bare minimum requirement of your attention, you achieve.” I sat up. The origin of greatness is between how high I had placed my hands originally, and where they were after he urged us to apply ourselves. I was invigorated. I began staying behind after training to practise, penalties amongst that. I achieved greatness that way. People spend more time coming up with mantras than applying them. But not me. Now all I do is win. I open my eyes. The goalkeeper dances along his line. A wry grin pervades through my face. But indecision was not yet defeated.
 
I take three long, deliberate steps backward. My jersey clings to me due to sweat, whose grip on my back is exacerbated by the cold. I wander my eye down to my knee, where blood can be seen through the mud which cakes it. It is painful, and it throbs. The captain’s armband is tight, I begin to think if it’s blocking a blood flow. In a moment of shock realisation, I recognise that I am fabricating excuses. Losers make excuses. To me, an excuse is an acceptable reason to lose. Therefore, I never make nor accept excuses. An off-day is a strange sort of excuse, where no real reason for failure is given. That is precisely why winners never have off-days. And so I brush aside all of aforementioned inhibitions, and laugh them off. Nonetheless, I shiver. My indecision is becoming an unsteadying force.
 
A whistle blows. Again, I close my eyes. Now I find myself in the woods. I am calm. I kneel beside a meander. There are several logs, deliberately cut, which float ignorantly in my peaceful area. I breathe in to the deepest pit of my stomach, slowly. Aligned to my breathing is a current which comes and easily carries the logs away, although it leaves one log to remain. I sit alone in the woods with this log
 
I open my eyes. I look at the ball, then at the goal. I decide. I approach the ball, stroking it forcibly to the left. A moment passes. There are shouts and screams of euphoria. All I do is win.
 

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Aaron Barry.
Published on e-Stories.org on 21.01.2012.

 

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