An old man (HAROLD) sits in a hospital waiting room. Coughs and snuffles sound dimly in the background, with the odd wailing child. As he breathes it seems to cause a deal of pain. We hear his thoughts.

HAROLD

I were a corporal then, sergeant later. Yuletide. In the trenches. Cold as charity… 

FADE OVER to the trenches. Open air. Dull sound of artillery in the distance. A soldier (JACK GLENNY) breaks the silence.

JACK

Corp… you got a ciggie?

HAROLD

No.

JACK

Come on, it's Christmas.

HAROLD

Not where I'm sitting.

The sudden sound of a rifle shot. HAROLD reacts sharply.

HAROLD

Keep your head down!

JACK

It was up in the air. The shot.

 A shout from afar. German accented English.

GERMAN

Hey Tommy. You wish to play football?

HAROLD

(Shouts back)You come out first, Fritzie!

Laughter from other side. JACK sneaks a look.

JACK

Hell's teeth, they've kicked a ball over. Right in the middle of no man's land. 

HAROLD

It can stay there.

JACK

(On the move) Not for my money.

HAROLD 

Where are you going?

JACK

I fancy a game.

HAROLD

They'll blow your head off!

JACK

(At a distance) What do you care? You wouldn't even dot me a ciggie.

CROSS TO the surgery. Someone sneezes violently. HAROLD takes another painful breath, grunts with annoyance. Back to his thoughts.

HAROLD

Jack Glenny. Mad as a brush but he could play a bit.He walked across the mud whistling Rule Britannia. I kept expecting… but it never happened. He got to the ball, he had a left foot could open a tin o' corned beef. Keepy-uppy, toe to knee to head to shoulder, he even bounced it off his backside. Our lads were cheering him on, and… so did the other lot. Then two Gerries walked out. Took off their greatcoats, folded them up and placed them a certain measure of yards apart. Our lads came up and over, so did theirs, congregated, broke bread, ciggies, family photos, dirty jokes, but I weren't part of any of it. My attention was fixed on these greatcoats. The Gerries. They'd only gone and made a bloody goal. I wasn't having that.

The trenches. Distant hubbub. HAROLD calls down the line.

HAROLD

Beanie! Get down the line to the Jocks, the Dalrymple brothers, then Big Tommy and his lot on the way back.

BEANIE

What do I tell them?

HAROLD

Tell them… there's a war on.

Back to his thoughts in the surgery. An ambulance sounds its siren outside.

HAROLD

I grabbed a couple of kit bags, walked out over the top, stuck the bags down, measured out a goal best I could then carried on. A Gerry walked towards me, officer type, blue eyes, but they'd seen a bit, same as me. He handed a piece o' paper with writing on it. "That's my team," he said. Good English. I looked at the list, could've been vegetables for all I knew. I had a think. The Jocks on the wings, Jack centre, Beanie and I inside, Big Tommy in goal, his two mates full-back, but then..? I looked at the officer. "I've got a problem," I said —

A receptionist's voice breaks in to disturb HAROLD

RECEPTIONIST

Mister Stone? The Specialist will see you now.

HAROLD

Is it that big bugger? The rugby one?

RECEPTIONIST

He may have played. At one time.

HAROLD

You can't trust him. Never know which way the ball bounces.

RECEPTIONIST

I'm sure he'll tell you. 

HAROLD

But can he help me? I've got a problem.

RECEPTIONIST

What is it?

HAROLD

The midfield. I've got a problem in the midfield.

Fade on his dry, sardonic laughter.

THE END