I was in bed with my wife, and I was trying to sleep at 10:30 in the evening. Still recovering from a rough cold it was not easy going. But whatever natural problems of illness I had in sleeping were increased exponentially by the sound of people playing ball in the street. A group of young men had moved into the large rental house just a little down the block from us. This house has always been a problem in the sense that whoever has lived there has been strongly inclined to make a lot of noise on the street, often in the wee hours of the morning. This wasn't the wee hours, but it was annoying and seemed to be issuing from that most usual culprit. Thud, thud, Thud, THUD, thud thud. Was it a basketball? No, too irregular. A football? No, too frequent. Certainly it had to be a larger, air filled ball. The sound was too blunt for anything stiffer, like a Frisbee, or baseball. And what was it that could go on like that with no rhythm and no break?
I tossed and turned. Fortunately I wasn't coughing. That was good. If only they would stop, I thought, I could maybe sleep.
Thud, thud, thud, Thud THUD, thud. There were no animating noises of young men at play. Just the ball, or whatever it was. I could make no sense of the noise. I could not crack this puzzle.
Finally overcome with curiosity I rose from bed, went to the window, pulled back the curtain, and peered out. In the middle of the street were three young men, maybe in their twenties, kicking a soccer ball between them. There was no chatter, no competition. It was serious and earnest, and they were very, very, very good. Heads, chest, knees, feet, onto the next one, and as I stood watching for two minutes, cold and sleep deprived, not once did that soccer ball ever touch ground. Not even close. Professional soccer players had moved into the house down the street.
As I went back to bed I dealt with a small stew of reactions. To get that good you have to play a lot of futbol. This could go on for quite awhile! And I also thought, they were really good! I don't know if it was the satisfaction of my curiosity, the increase in my sleepiness, or my respect for them, perhaps it was all three, but I was asleep in minutes. I don't know how late they played.