Go The Knuckle

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If I'd gone and done a cruciate - got a reco on the knee -
Been carried wounded from the ground; fallen, but with glory,
Then I could have grown a moustache and joined the R.S.L,
Thumped my fist when I got pissed and given the youngsters hell.

But my fate's unraveled different: my cruciate's unsnapped,
My knee's in working order but my face has just been slapped:
There comes that team selection when your name ends with "omit."
It's harder playing in the two's when you know you're fully fit.

Youngsters pushing for selection aren't gonna wanna wait
For some old bastard veteran to quietly accept his fate -
There's a kid playing forward flank - and, I mean it, he's a kid -
Who runs and jumps and kicks as well - better - than I ever did.

The wife's got fat. The theory's that you lose the urge to stray;
But the girls that I'll never bed I regret more every day.
My son's in at the local high. The teacher's say he'll fail.
His head is cropped at the top, but he wears a long rat's tail.

You know that crappy Aussie may-tey jingo jumbuck crap?
Where Aussie blokes keep fighting, like we did against the Jap?
I thought about it deeply when I got put down to the two's.
I run out that Sat'd'y morning knowing what I had to do.

The young kid playing forward flank was putting on a clinic.
I watched with admiration - me, an old embittered cynic -
I watched that young kid's every move, hands like lightning, legs like steel,
And knew the proud vicarious protectiveness fathers feel.

"Old warrior," I told myself, "The better fate is thine."
The kid was being closely checked, two opponents at a time.
A sudden surge of hatred - a terrible beauty born -
My elbow hit that temple like the loin hits a faun.

In the tangle of the bodies, the confusion of the pack,
There was an awful stillness to the player on his back.
Are not all our motives covered in anger and in mud?
How white his young skin looked when contrasted with his blood.

"Unlucky," said the papers, "and a teammate he so adored!"
"There's a chance that he'll walk again, reports the spinal ward."
The curse of age is knowing that you have done what you have done.
They've just posted team selections. Next week I'm in the one's.

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