JAVIER NIEVES (football)

He saw Afghanistan as a giant football field,
with offensive and defensive lines,
constantly shifting in day and night maneuvers.
Players advanced on long periodic drives,
gaining ground yard by precious yard.
Mortars were thrown into the flat
Bombs were hurled towards the red zone.
Holes were opened up in the enemy’s lines.
“All true,” Javier told us when he came home.
“You don’t think much, just listen to the signals given.
You just try to wipe out the other side.”
We urged him not to re-up for another season,
but he brushed us off llke a speck on his uniform,
told us he wanted to be there for the victory celebration.
We learned later, while still at our books,
he fell to the ground, blindsided.
He never knew whether his squad won or lost.
He was too young to know the rules of combat.
Nevertheless, we will remember him always
for his on the field bravery.