Selina Powell (Wellington High School)

Ball Game

When I play soccer in the backyard,
Pete leans over the fence, opens his palms and says
Football!

Glint-hair, glint-eyed
snaggle tooth, Pete from Liverpool.

That’s not how you play football,
Pete says.

How I play football is
on a field once a rubbish dump,
dodging pillows in the hallway,
dribbling to school, and racing
buses at the traffic lights.

Pete has a glow around him, sun circling
over his shoulder. He asks
Where’s the grace? Where’s the dancing?
I squint at Pete, the fireball football caught in my eye.

Some days, I can only answer with
flat feet, elbows, tongue out to one side,
ugly girl
playing beautiful game. But I look forward to

others, when I am around the cushions
seamlessly, through the chair legs
SCORE
As the sun sets in my backyard I loop a header up, up
down to rest yin and yang on my foot.

Along comes Pete, hands to heaven
Football! He says, game? So

we play, and I win as easy as
one pirouette past Pete, two cheeky tackles and
three goals between the flowerpots.
I am glowing light
footed, Girl, you can move

Pete says, Best dance I ever had
head shaking, glint grinning,
Pete from
over the fence.