This is an Ode to the Dauntless Dirk Kuyt.
To the right is the North Sea: its rippled skin is broken by a whale carrying its speared pride like a medal, or the clenched fist of a wave raining down on the jaw of a fishing boat. Bulwarks of water and sleet bending steel can’t bend the will of the man behind the captain’s wheel. He named his third child after himself. Dirk Kuyt’s father would come home to him every time.
To Dirk jr.’s left were churches, chip-shops and oblivion.
The Rhyme of the Katwijk Mariner
The proud pot-bellied sailor’s son was already a man.
Some troubadours have the luxury of walking down many roads;
A young Dirk Kuyt from home to the docks to the market to home
walked down one road many times
Sundays at Katwijk were housed in the house of the Lord
while Saturdays belonged to Dirk Kuyt.
The only other time Katwijk was ever of prominence
was during Roman times,
when Katwijk was of strategic importance,
which comes with being the teeth of the river Rhine.
People eke out a living here and their backbones have the resolve of sea dikes.
Instead of the weight of the fishing net,
Dirk’s shoulder was a catchment of hope for
Feyenoord’s 45, 000
human sardines packed into their respective stadiums.
Football was the lure and Dirk Kuyt the most seaworthy.
The only time his shoulder slumped was at Liverpool when his father, Dirk, died.
Hair with the yellow of harvesting wheat,
his face appears shaped by buffeting hail,
his craggy form is of an iceberg,
like much of his qualities are 3/4th below his skin.
Rock, ice and sea in the guise of a footballer
inseparable from the elements –
how could they distinguish him on the pitch?
drab as an unshined leather jacket
or white as a Golem, with life and duty breathed into it
and urged to never stop:
to walk on, walk on.
On the pitch, he would not stand out
and no one saw him announce his arrival
but he arrived like a flicker of defiance at the end of the candle.
Like the beam of a lighthouse when the waves were highest.
His lungs house the west wind and his sweat may have cut stones.
He seemed like a man who would make his own bread
or someone who could yield the towering tree to splinters for firewood
or make a bench for the porch
and then make the porch to go with it.
His studs would till the soil for his teammates to reap the fruits
in the most barren patches of Camp Nou, Standard Liege,
San Siro and Stamford Bridge
Alabaster angels and working-class heroes in football
are sparse as glacial fruits.
I believe tapestries should include the ones who lay the mortar:
Makeleles and Francescolis should reap doubly
as it’s in their nature to share.
I believe all the Stakhanovs
hacking away at stones in mines
should also get a view of the setting sun.
Dedicated to the normal and wise to the slavish stupidity of hubris
in a profession filled with the stupid-happy-vacuous
moth-bulb joys of drinks, cigarillos and loose living –
Dirk knew the hammer is only as strong as the will.
Each day came with the obligation to succumb at the twilight.
Yet, finally as the captain of his own ship in Turkey and Rotterdam,
the man with the inheritance of just a boat, inherited silverware
and the happily-ever-after that is reserved
for those who see the horizon and sail into it, dauntlessly.
He was a striker who was a better winger than most wingers
and a better defender than most.
He couldn’t run, but he would gallop.
Dirk Kuyt couldn’t control the ball
but he could compel the tide of the game to turn.