The Penalty

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Eyes focused like an eagle, gait lazy and casual, he picked up the ball, dry lips touched the leather once, before hands carefully put it back exactly above the mark made by the referee.

The mind suddenly went numb, no sense of the crowd or of the players standing behind, taking a few steps away, he stood still, eyes quickly travelled to the post before settling on the ball again.

Hands unexpectedly placed themselves on the hips as he contemplated his shot, left, right or straight, lobbed or grounded, extreme corner at left or right, he was puzzled, before his mind abandoned all the options.

‘Let my feet do whatever they want’ he instructed himself.

The loud whistle of the referee brought his feet to life, the head moved to let his eyes discover goalkeeper’s position and the net. 

And, as he began the short run, his glance flashed from the goal and back to the ball, the feet wobbled a bit before turning steady, the goalkeeper suddenly blanked out from his mind’s eye and he stared at an open goal.

He flew with the wind, feet yearning to touch the ball, 6 out of the 7 steps were over with an electric pace, before they came to a sudden stop, for the last one, he paused, a superfast train coming to an abrupt halt.

The goalkeeper seeing him run so quick, committed himself, thousandths of a second early, and at that last moment, his feet softly rolled the ball inside the back of the net, agonizingly slow, the ball strolling past the line, inches away from the goalkeeper’s hands who continued feeling he still had a chance, till it moved past him and into the mesh, bringing a huge sigh from his mouth and a loud cry from the chest.

The entire stadium was euphoric, shouting in unison, while he stood in a Zen like pose with everyone jumping over and around him.

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