Moving the goalposts


I looked around the football pitch, confused.

“Where are the goalposts?”

“Oh, they are over there now because we thought that it would be easier for us to score over there,” a man in a red shirt replied jovially.

I looked over, and was alarmed to see that the core posts had indeed been moved to a place in the middle of the pitch that was right next to where they were kicking off. If that was not enough, they were also further apart and Healy stretched the entire width of the pitch.

“You can’t do that,” I complained bitterly. “We are in the middle of a game, and you can’t just change the rules in order to suit yourself. Where is my goalpost anyway?”

“You kept scoring. We decided that that was unfair and so we moved your goalpost right over there,” he pointed down the other end of the pitch, and I swear I had to get binoculars out in order to see where I was supposed to be firing the ball. They were also very close together, and it seemed unlikely that I would ever be able to score.

“You can’t do that.”

“Oh, but we can and we will. You see, we are the people with the power to make these decisions, and we can make them stick as well. You are simply one player, and there are an entire team of us that is just waiting to take you on. So, shall we play?”

“No.” I walked away from the pitch, and the game that we were in the middle of.

I had not made it more than ten paces when the man in the red shirt stopped me. “We are in the middle of the game, you can’t just walk away.”

“You have changed the rules, and now it is nothing like the game that I started. I am walking away from something that you have made it impossible for me to play.” Or to win, I added in my thoughts. “I do not want to be a part of this.”

The man shook his head. “We are in the middle of the game, so you have no choice but to keep playing with the new sets of goals.”

“That is not fair.”

“It is for us, and therefore it works.”

“What if I refuse?”

“You are certainly free to do that.” The man in red produced a pile of paperwork from absolutely nowhere and pushed them towards me. “You just have to sign a form that tells us that you have forfeited your position without a fight. In other words, you lose.”

“I do not wish to play any more, but that is not the same as forfeiting my position. I still believe that I ought to be able to fight, but I believe that the fight should be a fair one.”

“We don’t want that.”

My shoulders slumped forwards in defeat. “You are not giving me the choice.”

“No,” the man smiled as he spoke, and the paperwork disappeared.

“Okay then, we should play.” I took hold the ball and got ready to play against impossible odds. That’s what you get if you start a game with the devil.

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