Keepy Uppy by Roger Haydon

Friday, February 19, 2021
Roger Haydon tells the story of a thirteen-year-old lad from the estates with one eye on his football and the other on his future.

I've been good. I've not touched my PlayStation since I got home from school. I said hello to Mum, she's just home from her morning shift and drinking a mug of tea in the front room with her feet up. I've come up to my room, stuck some music on my Sony headset nice and loud and I've sort of done my homework. Well, to be honest, I've started it and I'll finish it later but, hopefully, Mum won't know the difference. She thinks I can get to sixth form and university if I get the grades. Me? I'm not so sure, what would someone like me study? Mum thinks I'd be good at history 'cos I she thinks I'm, like, intelligent and I like all those really old stories and Miss Wilson is a brilliant teacher. Jen also thinks I can do something but she's just my big sister, what does she know? But, university? Nah. And there's no jobs, everybody says so, so why bother? Except, I've got an idea about what I can do.

So, what I'm really doing is waiting for my best mates to call like we agreed at school earlier so we can go and kick a ball around. But they're late, they're always late, pisses me off, I'm never late for things except, okay, sometimes my homework. I sneak down to the kitchen and grab a Coke from out the fridge, and nick a Twix and a bag of crisps from the cupboard. Mum with her radar ears and x-ray vision knows what I'm doing, like, every time. She charges into the kitchen, mug of tea in her hand.

'Danny, you'll spoil your tea, you're a bad lad.'

'Mum, it's okay.'

'Have you done your homework?'


'Not just started it?'

'Nah, no way.'

'Gonna finish it later maybe?'

'Mum, it's okay.'

'Danny Pearson, I know you better than you know yourself. You never learn, do you?' and she laughs. Actually, she cackles, her laugh is mad, does my head in. 'Go on, get yourself out from under my feet but make sure you're back for tea. You've got an hour. Okay?'

'Yes Mum.'

'Finish your homework after tea?'

'Yes Mum.'


'Yes Mum.'

'Love you.' She gives me a big kiss on the top of my head but I'm not sure about that, it's a bit soppy. 'Your big sis is coming over with the kids for tea so don't be late.'

'Jen's coming?'

'She is.'


We got a goal chalked on the end wall signed by all three of us, me Speccy and Sniffy, it's them I'm waiting for. It's a big wide side street, this estate's got lots of them and they've all got them s-bend chicane things to stop the hard lads in their cars being stupid late at night and with massive speed bumps all along. It's supposed to be a play street. Mum says to be careful of the neighbours' cars when you're kicking the ball around because you don't want to damage them, you know what happened last time. She says it's safe enough because of the bumps and bollards and stuff but watch out for cars driving along every so often, don't do anything silly.

'Mum, I'm thirteen now, I know what to do. Stop worrying, I'm dead careful, it'll be okay. See ya later.' I'm off before she can say anything else, out the front door quick and bounce the ball with my hand like they do in basketball as I head for the goal on the wall.

I never damage any cars 'cos I'm pretty good with a football. Well, okay, I did once but that was two years ago and I said I was sorry and I've got a lot better, got good control. I've been in the school team for three years now and they say I could be captain in a year. I'm going up in the world. So, I play keepy uppy for a while, bouncing the ball from my foot to my thigh to my head and back so it never hits the ground. Then, I start scoring against the goal on the wall from all sorts of angles, running with the ball and free kicks as well. Curling balls in, nice. I'm quick, I trap the rebounds then shoot and score again. I stop as a car goes by, Brian and Joyce from down the road. I smile and wave, they wave back. They helped look after me when I was young 'cos Mum was her own and Jen was doing her exams and they're really kind to us. Mum's still on her own.

I score a couple of goals with backheels, I'm well on form. There's shouts from down the road

'Hey big Danny'o. You're looking good.'

'Here we are Danny'o, the lads are here.'

It's Speccy and Sniffy at last, about time. They call me again just as I shoot a third backheeled goal, pure skill. I wave back, take my eye off the ball and miss the rebound like an idiot. Not good.

It's going to hit Big Kenny's new Mercedes across the road near the junction, he's just finished cleaning and polishing it for the second time this week. He got it a month ago, I'll get a car like that when I'm a professional. In fact I'll have two or three, a limo and a couple of sports cars, all bright red just like Big Kenny's Merc and a big garage for them all. I'll be a professional with one of the top teams, I'm easily good enough, everyone says so. I'll be a striker and score loads of goals and skid over the pitch on my knees with my arms in the air to celebrate with my teammates every time I score, like they do. And when the money starts rolling in I'll get Mum a proper house of her own with a big garden and I'll get her a nice car and pay for her to have driving lessons. That's my plan.

Kenny'll kill me if I scratch his Merc, him and his gangsta mates. I've got to stop the ball, I've got to be real quick. It's weird but I think of all this like it's all in slow motion, like time has sort of stopped. So, while I'm thinking all of this stuff, I sprint off the pavement into the road. Speccy and Sniffy are really close now and they shout again.

'Danny'o, what you doing man?'

It's like they're trying to stop me, but I know what to do, I'll show them. I skid up to the Merc, flick the ball up with my right foot just before it hits the driver's door. I send it towards my thigh so I can control it. Perfect. I let it drop dead to the ground and trap it with my right foot, all of this in a fraction of a second and turn to run back to the pavement. So cool, on top form. And then there's this noise, dead loud all around me and I'm down on the road.

Now, I can't hardly hear Speccy and Sniffy though I think they're still shouting. I think I can hear Big Kenny's voice near me or it might be Dad, but it can't be Dad. And there's Mum as well telling me off and it could be Jen cradling my head, telling me she loves me and to lie still but I'm not sure any more, not sure at all about any of it, but I'll go to university, I promise, I will. And I'll do history, whatever, and I'll finish my homework after tea, promise.


  1. Not the ending I thought was coming....very well done. Excellent, short story. I connected with the MC and was affected by the outcome. Well done.

  2. Good job of getting inside a kid’s mind. A lesson learned, and dreams dashed, the hard way. I like how the ending indicated what happened without baldly giving it away.

  3. I felt a terrible sense of foreboding as I read this tale. I anticipated the ending but it shocked me anyway. A succinct cerebral horror/suspense tale, very well executed.

  4. Beautifully written internal monologue of a young boy's rationale and fears. Nice job.

  5. Well written and paced, gives a great picture of the boy's life, and then all things change in an instant.Indeed, there's a foreboding presence throughout.

  6. I really love what you've done here, the internal thoughts work so well. And the ending, skillful the way you didn't water it down with details. You gave us just enough. Nice writing.