It was the end of December. The thaw had set in, The boy strode along the puddle strewn bridleway, followed by the old couple. An incongruous trio; he, smartly attired in his brand new Arsenal kit, the old pair in hats, gloves, trousers and coats. All three trudged through the mud, avoiding puddles where possible, and made their way up the steep grass mound to the football ground. The nets were up. A welcome sight for the soccer mad lad.
The old couple took their accustomed place between the goalposts, their boots sinking into the soft soil. Soon the boy was sending shots fast and furious, high and low, toward the goalmouth. The old man made fumbled attempts to save them, calling out words of encouragement for a well struck left footer, or a curling shot to the high corner. Valiantly, he chased after those that flew past the goalpost, or over the bar. He joked as the old woman occasionally prodded tentatively at the ball, taking care to protect her bunions and ingrowing toenails. The boy understood the relationship between the old couple. He laughed, but knew that Grandad was taking a risk, making jokes at Nanny’s expense. For more than an hour they were there, in the damp afternoon, till early dusk descended, the boy and the old man sharing his dream of a run unto the pitch at the Emirates Stadium, the old woman watching closely for signs of tiredness or pain.
At home, later, the boy played on his PS3, the old man on his computer, while the old woman cleaned and polished the boy’s boots, and washed his socks. As it always was, and forever would be. Each doing what gave them most pleasure. And all three sharing a deep loving bond.