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THE LONELY GOALKEEPER


performed by Cahoots Theatre, Toronto 2005

Characters:

Goalkeeper

Stranger

Flat ball

IN A BURNT OUT, WAR-SCARRED VILLAGE IN THE MOUNTAINS A MAN ON CRUTCHES, PLAYS WITH A DEFLATED BALL IN A SOCCER FIELD. HE IS WEARING A JERSEY FULL OF HOLES WITH NUMBER 1 ON ITS BACK. THE FIELD IS FILLED WITH GRAVES, AND EACH IS MARKED WITH A WOODEN CROSS OVER WHICH A SOCCER JERSEY IS DRAPED. A STRANGER APPROACHES.

....................................................................................................................................................................................................

GOALKEEPER

If you are looking for someone or something valuable, don't come in here. There's is nothing left in the Left Village. Just ruins and crows. And minefields.

STRANGER

There is my Grandpa's house.

GOALKEEPER

There is nothing there, I told you. Nobody lives there, just crows. Don't you smell the stench? Some idiot who didn't read the sign that said minefield is now decomposing. Where are you coming from, you dummy?

STRANGER

Far from here, from Canada, you're the dummy. I was wondering if there's somebody left in the village. I can see Grandpa's old stone house. He's dying now and asked me to bring something back from the house, after he left.

GOALKEEPER

You must be living in a Canadian desert if nobody but me told you. There's nobody living in the Left Village. There are no photos, there isn't a picture worth seeing. Better keep your pictures from your memory and take off!

THE GOALKEEPER KICKS THE FLATTENED BALL TO THE STRANGER

STRANGER

Whenever I came here, nobody ever told me the same village has two names, Left and Right.

GOALKEEPER

That's Left, we're Right. I told you, nobody's there. Give me back my ball.

STRANGER

Are you the only one living here?

GOALKEEPER

Not your problem. Just give me my ball back and run down the hill. To your Canada.

STRANGER

If you try being friendlier maybe you wouldn't be so lonely here, among the graves.

GOALKEEPER

I'm not lonely. I have my graves. A whole team.

STRANGER

(HOLDING THE FLATTENED BALL) You should have a better ball. At least one of your legs deserves it. Somebody slit it with a knife, I see.

GOALKEEPER

I did it myself.

STRANGER

Ball killer?

GOALKEEPER

Want to know why? I can't run down the hill every time the ball jumps over the fence. One leg runs, the other leg doesn't. You don't know anything about it!

THE STRANGER THROWS THE BALL BACK TO THE GOALKEEPER AND LOOKS AROUND.

STRANGER

This isn't a soccer field, it's just a graveyard field with posts at the end. Don't tell me you play soccer with the crosses ?

GOALKEEPER

None of your business.

STRANGER

You must be sick. You must always win against the Cross team. Do they play dirty? Do they attack your crutches?.

GOALKEEPER

No, they just play defence .

STRANGER

Defending themselves from you.

GOALKEEPER

No, defending themselves from you, and people like you.

GOALKEEPER THROWS THE BALL TO THE STRANGER

STRANGER

Why from me? I just want to take home a piece of my grandpa's past. And that's allЙ

GOALKEEPER

That's what I'm talking about. You came just to take a piece of the past and the next minute you'll be out of here with a souvenir. What about the past?

STRANGER

Get lost, you sick-o. I'm not buying your past. My dying grandpa has a need to die with his soccer jersey and that's all.

HE THROWS THE BALL TO THE GOALKEEPER

GOALKEEPER

You really look like your grandpa.

STRANGER

Did you know him ?

GOALKEEPER

He knew everything about soccer but nothing about the players

KICKS THE BALL TO THE STRANGER

STRANGER

Consider yourself lucky that I don't fight with cripples. I'll find the way to his house by myself Й. Why am I wasting my time?

GOALKEEPER

I don't know why. Before you keep asking, kindly give me back my ball. I have to tell you that I'm the only keeper of the jerseys. Your grandpa's jersey is right here on the soccer field.

STRANGER

Are you kidding me? I can't believe it! You put his jersey on a wooden crossЙ What number?

GOALKEEPER

There are no numbers. People get to die like numbers so there are no names, The soccer field always stays the same. Only 22 players, and that's the only number I care for. I am a keeper of memories but also the keeper of shame.

STRANGER THROWS THE BALL BACK TO GOALKEEPER

STRANGER

My grandpa is still alive, but it seems already buried.

GOALKEEPER

Goodbye.. goodbye! One more thing. When you go to the village don't forget there's a minefield on the left side of the road and also to the right side of the road.

STRANGER

(LEAVING) Then I'm going straight.

GOALKEEPER

Yes, just go straight and you will reach nothing.

STRANGER

Yes, I already heard that. There is no Left Village.

LEAVING AND WAVING TO GOALKEEPER

GOALKEEPER

There's no village there at all. Just stones.

STRANGER

I am going to see it for myself!

GOALKEEPER

There is no village. We burned it down to the ground.

STRANGER

How do you mean, you burned it? Why?

GOALKEEPER

Because they burned down our houses first.

STRANGER

Just like that?

GOALKEEPER

Just like that? Not just like that. Your grandpa's team left in the middle of the Sunday game we'd been playing for twenty years. Some referee from the other village screwed up something. A bad referee. And that's how it started. That night they came with torches, and with flags. Different flags then usual. Bad flags.

STRANGER

What kind of a flag did you have when you went there for revenge. Soccer flags? Peace flags?

GOALKEEPER

Different flags.

GOALKEEPER THROWS THE FLAT BALL TO A STRANGER

STRANGER

How much different?

GOALKEEPER

Different colour. We repainted our soccer flags overnight.

STRANGER

It happened just because they left. Left Villagers. End of story?

GOALKEEPER

But they're coming back.

THE STRANGER THROWS THE BALL TO THE GOALKEEPER

STRANGER

What do you mean, coming back?

GOALKEEPER

Yes, they are. Because of the memories and a shame. Look at that jersey next to the goal post. The left goal. It was your grandpa's teammate. He was buried here last year. His son brought his coffin all the way from Australia. Next to him is the grave of our famous left winger. His grandson could barely speak our language but he respected his grandpa's will to be burred here. All the way from Africa, can you believe it? And the next grave is.

STRANGER

What are you telling me?

GOALKEEPER

is the grave of your grandpa's best friend, what a great player on defence, he came from Alaska and I could even smell the snow on his coffin when we buried himЙ They're coming back.

STRANGER

Just to be buried here, in this soccer field in the middle of nowhere

GOALKEEPER THROWS THE BALL TO THE STRANGER

GOALKEEPER

Yes, they are coming back.

STRANGER

Because of memories?

GOALKEEPER

And the shame. I already told you, you know nothing about that. You came to get just a little piece of the past and get rid of it as soon as you go.

STRANGER

But who are you?

GOALKEEPER

Just a goalkeeper. Some people are born with two legs ready to play but some people are born to watch. I am safeguarding both of the goals from people like you who come here with the question "Why" and then leave with the same question. It's getting dark. You should go now.

STRANGER

Yes, it's much easier to go down the hill than to walk up the hill.

GOALKEEPER

Did your grandpa ask to be buried here?

STRANGER

Something like that.

THROWS THE BALL TO THE GOALKEEPER. HE BEGINS TO WALK SLOWLY AWAY.

GOALKEEPER

Wouldn't it be much easier to just take him his jersey?

STRANGER

Whatever.

GOALKEEPER

Have you learned anything about shame?

STRANGER

(FROM A DISTANCE) Not much.

GOALKEEPER

Then there's one wooden cross for you to come back to.

STRANGER

(ALREADY AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL) Noooo way, I never play on your team.

GOALKEEPER

But the whole time you played soccer with me. And I am the goalkeeper see you soon.

IN THE DARK THE GOALKEEPER IS LAUGHING.

....................................................................................................................................................................................................

THE END

 

 

   
         

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