On the Premier League's return, Sean Cuddy pens a short story, a tale of love and football.

He meets her before he’s ready. Although it’s fair to say that one is never fully prepared for the trials and tribulations of love. For it is a journey that is learned only among the soaring peaks and dark canyons that make up the road.

Wihen he is too young to know any better, he falls for her . She will be his and he will be hers. He will love  and support her though the good times and the bad. He hopes that she will do the same.

Yet that will not be the case.

He visits her every weekend. No matter what is being asked of him, through school, through college, through his work life, he drops it all for her. He is devoted. He cares deeply. 

Perhaps too deeply.

For she is unable to give him the stable love he seeks. Right from the start he notices her tendency toward depression, to being beaten down by life and unable to compete with her competition. He gives her nothing but encouragement but she seems not to hear. In his most frustrated moments he thinks that she doesn’t care but he shakes his head and rejects the thought. She has to care. Surely too much has gone on between them for her not to?

She has her moments when she breaks free from her struggles, where she gives him everything he wants from her. These are the happiest moments of his life. These are times when it seems 

Chained by Love

like nothing in the world could break his mood. It’s written all over his face and all over his actions as he goes about his day. Those who know him best smile knowingly at each other as he talks loudly with them about all her recent progress. It won’t last they know, but they are happy for him all the same. The women in his family are different. They worry for him. 

“She will only make you miserable in the long run” they tell him.

“Let her go” .

Yet even they know that he is chained to her for life. 

As the years pass his love begins to change, becoming bitter and corrupted by the pattern of false dawns and broken promises. Each and every promising period comes crashing down ignonominiously. With his head in his hands,he swears to his friends and family that he is sick of her. He can’t take it anymore, he’s breaking up with her. They place their hands over his shoulder and tell him he’s right. They hope that this time he means it, but never does. He always takes her back.

He and his love spend some time apart yes, but never too long. Every summer she goes away to clear her head and he often sits there alone in his room, anxiously checking his phone for any news. She keeps him updated, telling him that the problems that have been ailing her have been eliminated. She had to do this, to recuperate and get her head straight. When she returns things will be different. After a certain number of years he stops believing her. He hopes but he doesn’t expect. He looks at his reflection in the mirror and resolves that this time he will keep seeing her but he will keep a gap between them. As long as she doesn’t suck him back in all the way, everything will be perfect. He tells himself that he’s strong 

Chained by Love

enough to keep her at arms length. What makes it so difficult is that it always seems that she’s trying so hard to be the partner he desires. She wants it so badly she says, she’s working so hard. This cycle has repeated so many times that in his subconscious he feels powerless to stop it

They meet again late every summer in the same place they have for years, just as the evenings begin to shorten and the summer begins to descend from its proud summit. He can never predict exactly how she will look. Sometimes his eyes widen in surprise at the sight of her. She is vibrant and healthy, full of life and energy. In the earlier years they would  embrace with passion and afterwards he would rush to tell his friends that this time it was different. She had finally turned the corner. Now though he hesitates. He continues to meet her but he guards his heart and his eyes glaze slightly when they look at her. Often for a while she plays her part. Challenges arrive that he expects to break her but they don’t. She stands strong, fiery and resolute and he begins to fall for her all over again.

Then right at the point where he allows his heart to open, she self-destructs. Another blazing argument, he storms away from her, throwing his hand in the air as he turns his back. His face screws up in pain as he walks and walks into the empty darkness, disassembling the fiasco that has just unfolded. In the following days his boiling anger cools to an icy depression. Head bowed, listless, he struggles through his day, forcing out a pained smile only when it is most required. Those who know him best frown and shake their heads in sympathy. She’s done it to him again. 

She’ll do it in the future too.

Chained by Love

Other times, when he meets her for the first time after their time apart, he can see immediately that there’s something wrong. She is dishevelled and unhealthy looking. Her energy is low. Her movements are anemaic and her vows of a strong year ahead stumble and fall out of her lips into the dirt. For him these moments are the emotional equivalent of a body blow from a trained fighter. The painful images of what lies ahead flash through his mind, so clear and transparent. For he has seen what happens when she shows up like this, and he knows the suffering that both of them will endure because of it. A distant voice screams in his mind to just turn and walk away, to save himself from this torture, but its too late. He has gone too far down the rabbit hole with her to ever turn back. He continues to meet her every Saturday like he always will.

He just loves his football club too much to ever walk away.

Sean Cuddy is a poet, spoken word performer and co-author of ‘Madouveh- 50 Tips For A Banging Session’.