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. Tempestuous 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’s left were churches, chip-shops and oblivion:
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 too many times
The proud pot-bellied sailor’s son was
already a man.
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 dikes.
Instead of the weight of the fishing net,
his shoulder was a catchment of hope for
human sardines packed in the stadium.
Football was the lure
and Dirk Kuyt the most seaworthy.
The only time his shoulder slumped was
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,
much like his qualities,
are 3/4th under his skin.
Rock, ice and sea in the guise of a footballer
inseparable from the elements –
how can they distinguish him on
drab as an unshined leather jacket
or white as a Golem
with life and duty breathed into it
and told to never stop
and 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
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, Old Trafford, Emirates, Stamford Bridge, Standard Liege or San Siro.
Alabaster angels and
working-class heroes in football
are sparse as glacial fruits.
I believe tapestries should include
the ones who lay the mortar:
Claude Makeleles, Socrateses, Enzo Francescolis.
I believe those who sow should reap
as it’s in their nature to share.
I believe all the Alexsei Grigoryevich Stakhanovs
hacking away at stones in mines
should 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,
Corvettes loose livin’ and loose tongues –
he 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,
and the happily-ever-after that is reserved for
those who see the horizon and sail into it,
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.