Author : Iain Maloney

I can’t recall how long I’ve been here. I sleep at odd hours: fitfully, but in bursts. Because everything else has changed, I do not heed the dregs of the old world. Dark and light, night and day.

To the west; where the sun slinks away was my home. It is in darkness now, submerged beneath the waves. I sit on this cliff. It was once a football pitch, now a headland. Below me, around me, is alive: moving, pushing, pulling. I always imagined a climax. Everyone did. An explosion, an implosion – wind, rain, the arid heat of a desert compressed into a nanosecond burst. It wasn’t like that. Slow. Imperceptible. The tide didn’t turn. It’s so simple. The tide didn’t turn. It kept coming, coming, coming. Met obstacles, flowed away, rose, eroded. There’s not much left now. Not much but water. And this goalmouth. One of the posts has sunk. The water is eroding below me causing subsidence. A water-logged pitch.

Don’t know what happened to the others. Dead, I suppose. I should feel grief but there’s nothing. I climbed. I climbed until there was nowhere higher. So I stopped. I can swim but there is nowhere to swim to. I can wait. There doesn’t seem much else to do.

Wonder when the last game was played on this pitch? Its erosion is recent. Did they stop when the reports came through? The approaching ocean, the deaths, the destruction? Did they, out of sympathy, out of fear, out of the overwhelming urge to survive, did they cancel matches? Games arranged months, years previously? Or did football triumph? Conclusive proof that it is more important than life and death.

I like this as a final resting place. There is nothing left now but memories, and inevitably, football has its place. The last time I saw my father was at a game, back in Glasgow, Parkhead. It was years back, when I was a kid. My parents separated when I was a toddler. Dad was in the army, stationed all over the world. He came back once. I don’t know what caused it, didn’t really question it at the time, just accepted that this is how the world works. He took me to Celtic Park, like his father had done with him. Pass it on. I don’t remember who was playing, what the score was, but I remember the noise, the vibrations through the stand. The smell of passion, fear, anger. That’s how I remember my father, as a face amongst thousands of others, cheering, shouting.

I wonder is there’s anything of Glasgow left. They stopped broadcasting a few months back. The last pictures I saw were of water lapping round Edinburgh Castle, people crammed inside, the unlucky being pushed from the walls.

I’m hungry. There’s nothing up here but grass and goal posts. A half-time pie is all I can think of. Soggy and greasy, salty. Part of me refuses to accept that all this has gone. Am I just unlucky enough to have been stranded here, while elsewhere people are celebrating? Either way, it doesn’t matter. There’s just me now. Last man standing.


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