Poem: The Catch

The Catch

Part 1

The track measured out by farmers’ chains

Since stumps were first pitched on Kentish field

The game down the bloodline, in our veins

From father to son, after work, in The Weald

 

Eking out last of summer’s days

Made precious by their coming end

Sun sets in harvest’s dusty haze

As last rays on the western horizon bend

 

“When the sun sets over the wood we’ll call time…

One last over before we head off “

The batsman studiously scratches a line

With his bat, and a nervous cough

 

The bowler, eyeing with hostile glint

On the rutted pitch a protruding flint

Straining every sinew and bone

He smashes it into the target stone

 

Batsman prods forward with wary tread

As the hard red ball soars straight at his head

Part 2

Mid-pitch an insect observes, by the by

They say time passes slowly for the humble house fly

An insect’s somnolent leisurely seconds

A human being by mere moments reckons

 

Blue bottle watching in casual slo-mo

The missile to strike a fearsome blow

Fifth of a second’s reaction time

Is all he has to get out of line

 

Why doesn’t he try to evade the blow?

Why are his reactions so utterly slow?

Measured out it’s just four feet from his face

With the brain yet to clock its path and its pace.

 

Part 3

Just in time his muscles flex

In pure self-preservation reflex

Ball catches the edge of his bat at high pace

And whistles safely just past his face

 

Saves an injury but what of his wicket?

Fielders poised feverishly through two hours’ cricket

Now second slip’s in the path of the ball

So close to the stumps was not a great call

 

The day’s not yet come where, with face crimson red

Blood will pump forth from a wound to the head

And he clutches the ball to save himself too

From having his mouth reduced to goo

 

Yelps as the ball is tossed high with glee

Accidents averted, no calamity

Recorded “Bowled Phil, caught Stucken A” –

The end of another late summer’s day.

 

Andrew Stucken