Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hectic Day, Hectic Game

J. lost his job when he made the mistake of cashing a false check. Someone approached him with the idea and Jesse went along with it for a number of sympathetic reasons, none that justified what he did of course. The amount was less than 500 dollars so it didn’t register as a felony. Still, it has kept him from getting the jobs he wants. J. is a trained cook, but that charge keeps popping up. Last time they told me, said Jesse, that it showed a lack of trustworthiness. After many years working at the soup kitchen you start to develop a gut instinct about people’s trustworthiness. Everyone is in need, so you factor that in, and sometimes for the sake of what might come of it, you trust people even though your gut tells you not too. Sometimes you get burned on the risk, but the rewards when someone responds to trust are invaluable. Jesse, however, is the type of guy you let hold your wallet; you get that feeling from him right off. So you think, this guys’ greatest asset is his loyalty and trustworthiness, but come to find out that is what’s keeping him where he is right now.

J. jumps to the forefront because we had to take him to the hospital after the game on Wednesday night. His asthma flared up. On the van ride to the hospital we made him laugh which made it even harder for him to breath. J. had started the game at midfield for Street Soccer 945. He is a stolid man, built like a cannonball. He seemed to be shot out from cannon early on as he surprised the opponent, stole the ball, and passed to Junior for our team’s first shot on goal. On a similar play four minutes later he stole the ball again and dished to Tony who powered the ball at the keeper such that the keeper couldn’t handle it and bobbled it over the line for our first goal. The referee however was in a bad position and didn’t call it a goal. Even though all the players had stopped to return the ball to midfield for a kickoff, the referee waved his arms to signal no goal and the play resumed awkwardly. That was J.’s last effort of the first half. He trotted off the field calling for his inhaler. Sweat beaded so heavily on his shaved head that it splashed when his teammates patted him on his head to congratulate him on his effort. While J. regained his breath, goalie Tim Cummings was throwing himself around like he was 18 all over again. Tim made around 20 saves in the first half before finally letting a header bounce past him. The score finished 1-0 at the half.

With J. out, first time player and 17 year old Jones played lots of minutes. Our senior players struggled. Craig had a bad day at work and barely made it to the van after getting off work. Tony came trotting down Tryon Street to catch us just before we got on the on ramp to the highway. Pop hadn’t slept after working night shift. Junior said he had a stomach-ache. Nassir who made his debut last week didn’t even try to come after he was stabbed in the leg by a man who blamed Nassir for his lost bags. Nassir is fine, only a handful of stiches. A calm, non-violent man, Nassir has his taxicab liscense, but is awaiting his greencard replacement to arrive. He managed to convince a cab owner to let him work as a driver. That was until he got stabbed in his right leg. “I was just about crying,’ said Nassir, ‘not from the pain in my leg, but because it was my right leg and he would not let me drive anymore.’

Other new faces included Lamont Harrel and John Oliver. In the end, we lacked cohesion. Despite good hustle we gave up a bevy of goals during a 5 minute period and found ourselves down 5-0 with a minute to go in the game. We gave up one more right at the end.

The most important result was hearing from J. at 1am, telling us he was fine. He said a lot of people asked questions about his uniform in the emergency room. He also said the doctor said he was getting better not worse. Jessie responded well to the treatment and was blowing with above average breath strength of 700 after just one treatment. In the past it has taken him 2 treatments to reach that level. Jess also noticed that even during the asthma attack he was blowing at a level that was above what used to be his average. The doctor told him this was surely a result of laying off cigarettes (he hasn’t smoked since joining the team) and running at games and at practice. Get back out there was the main message the doctor had for J.

The whole team will do that the week following Christmas. Happy Holiday from Street Soccer 945.

1 comment:

gardenman said...

Great post - sorry to hear about Nassir and Jesse, but I'm still proud of you guys.

That's the hidden story of homelessness and poverty - problems that would make our comfortable, middle class lives a huge hassle, yet our neighbors have to struggle with the very basics of shelter, food and finding work even as disease and violence strike.

This post speaks the truth, yet ends with hope and is filled with hope. A blessed New Year and 2008 to all, here's wishing you success in life and on the pitch.