There Will Come Soft Rains


They trot up and down the sand, posing for endless photos, backs aching under the weight of many an obese sunburnt child. They long for pasture, for freedom, for quiet and not the bingo calls, the trams, the boozy lewd outbursts of those in the Kiss Me Quick, Squeeze Me Slowly hats on the promenade.

They care not about Ian Holloway’s transfer budget, nor the development of the new stand at Bloomfield Road, and although they would be impressed and inspired by Mark Halsey’s remarkable and emotional return to top-flight refereeing, they have more pressing concerns.

For them it is nearing the end of the season, not the beginning, and they fear for their survival in the dark wintertime, rather than look forward to cosy nights in watching their new rivals in the Champions League.

The expectant groom, rehearsing his speech with gusto through his internal narrative, is also oblivious. The tearful bride too, asking the driver to go around the block a few more times, make him sweat through his soliliquoy. The guests, spruced up and ready to party, ok so one might be checking his phone every now and again, signalling to those who share his interest, but largely they are here and that is all that matters.

The return of the Premier League does not.

Then we have the blind man, struggling through every day, fumbling his way around the world, who used to enjoy the simple pleasure of listening to his team on the radio on a  Saturday afternoon at 3pm, but they never kick off then anymore, and, well, he simply cannot get excited about the 3-D revolution.

Meanwhile, the street sellers in Italy, they too couldn’t care less.

Born into a life of making ends meet, smuggled into the country or washed ashore infront of aghast sunbathers, selling their wares to unsuspecting tourists, whom in turn are oblivious to their plight. That they are under constant threat, always on the lookout and ready to gather up their merchandise and flee, is their problem, and that their guiding light, a precocious young talent, has been ‘sold’ again, this time abroad to another new life, is just tough.

Who will replace Super Mario?

The racists seem to have won, then, and their chants that “a Black Italian does not exist” appear to ring true once more.

These sentiments are echoed in Africa, where young orphans wonder why they too can’t shrug off suggestions that 220,000 English pounds a week might not be merited by a defensive midfielder.

Whilst the rumoured obscene wages cannot be discussed further, I for one hope that Balotelli proves a success, not just on the pitch, but also being a catalyst for a renewed challenge to xenophobic or worse comments on our own terraces.

And what of those colourful budgies on Las Ramblas? Will they care about David Villa, or Mourinho’s chances, or the beautiful mint number that is their team’s new away strip, which this author chose ahead of the alternative because he’d rather advertise unicef than a beer.

They just want to entertain, and be sold if possible. Again, to sing, and to survive.

They dismiss the trivial, little things, like the start of a new football season.

Ultimately there are those who are caring for ailing relatives, loved ones, friends, family. Those who are suffering on their own, without a caring shoulder. Or even worse, those grieving for the lost… Indeed, two matches this weekend are postponed due to unfortunate events, I am sure those involved will not miss the whistle and the smell of the grass.

For all of the above, football is an irrelevance at present, and rightly so.

For those of us fortunate enough to not be in any of those situations, however, focus reverts to the trials and tribulations of the beautiful game.

As if it ever went away.

Its lustre diminished even further by the anti-climax of South Africa, this season presents an interesting dilemma for the sport and hopefully, the tension will provoke a return to the morals and spirit that many of us fell for in the first place.

Everton will not win the league, but I hope some things change.

Because if not, the world could rightly adopt Sara Teasdale’s 1920 poem, There Will Come Soft Rains, instead substituting mankind for football, and as the optimism and excitement of this weekend fades, might a better world emerge after our petty wars?

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.