Gangsta’s Paradise: Right On The Button

I remember bumpin’ to this tune way back in ’96,
Coolio killed it with this joint before his career hit the skids,
’twas a big hit for us 90s kids,
probably the closest we’d come to being gangsters, bloods or crips,
also took me back to one particular day,
one filled with thrills, spills and a whole lot of pain,
It was just another day, a game of soccer under the sun,
lunchtime ritual away from class, it’s time for some fun,
didn’t need to be a pro to be all in,
just needed heart and a child-like desire to win,
been a long time but I can still recall when the cocky young peacock tamed the hulking behemoth.

We all picked sides, ain’t nobody wanted to be the keeper,
one conceded goal will see that dude taken to the cleaners,
never mind if their teammates left them hanging and wide-open,
the blame falls on them, always, they’re gonna have to pay for it,
that role fell to me more often than not,
Ain’t no magician with the ball might as well block all those shots,
I watched from my post as the others dribbled, passed and slid,
spinning and posturing, channeling their inner Lionel Messi,
forget a friendly match, these park games were wars,
such is the mind of a child, it was win-at-all costs.

Against the backdrop of that peaceful, early afternoon calm,
the young men whooped and hollered as they kicked that ball around,
orders were shouted like some Saving Private Ryan shit,
at times it got heated but was left in the pitch,
twenty minutes of game time before heading back to class,
to silently pray that the time would go by fast,
this day was different, something was imminent,
a free kick was called, lunchtime’s over in 10 minutes.

A slick striker, let’s call him Rick, offered to take the kick,
a successful last-grab would crown him king of the kids,
but standing before him was a menacing brick wall,
let’s call him Don, that kid was built like a mini Incredible Hulk,
like a scene from an old western film the young men eyeballed one another,
one of them would fall before lunchtime was over.
Rick was ready to take his shot but Don was too close,
“better get back,” warned Rick, “this shot’s no joke,”

Brimming with ego and bluster, the big ogre scoffed
“shut up and kick!” he roared, “you’re not getting shit off!”
he set up in front of Rick, almost in a sumo squat,
that ball shall not pass, no, not on his watch,
so Rick took his shot, a loud boom echoed immediately,
down went Don, clutching his jewels, vomiting profusely,
shit was colored purple, damn, Boy, what ‘cha been eating!?
his aura of intimidation shattered, poor Don’s arrogance melted into weeping.

Tears streamed down his face as he rolled about in agony,
feeling as though he’d been castrated or undergone a vasectomy,
both warring factions gathered around the fallen beast,
with a mixture of concern and stifled laughter, topped off with disbelief,
Rick couldn’t care less about the scene that he’d caused,
“I warned him,” said he, “not to stand too close to the ball.”
just like that, the game was done, the bell was imminent,
took three lads to help Donnie to his feet, the pain between his legs worse than the sting of defeat.

That’s one particular incident that I can recall vividly,
from my enormous storehouse of childhood memories,
learn from Donnie’s error, stay humble, be confident but not cocky,
life will even the score, always, sometimes sadistically.

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