If you visit a session of The Big Issue’s Street Soccer Program in Perth you might hear somebody yelling out “The Magician” or “Rocky” and you might wonder who they’re talking about. It’s me! Those are my nicknames from the coaches at soccer, but I was born as Keith, in Pinjarra, about 30 years ago.
Even though my mum and dad split up when I was young, my childhood was happy and uneventful. I lived with my mum growing up, but I have a good relationship with my dad too. I’m the oldest of quite a few siblings: a brother, a sister, a stepsister and three stepbrothers. I enjoy spending time with my mum and my brother; we see each other every week and Mum takes us on drives or to the shops.
I went to school in Belmont and finished Year 12. The best part about that time was my work experience with the Salvation Army. I loved it. When I was 18, I moved out of Mum’s house into supported accommodation with other people who also have an intellectual disability. I share a part of the house with Gavin, and there are a couple more people living in another part. I like it there, but I’m hoping to have my own place one day. Our support workers do all the cooking for us, but I’m learning to cook some dishes myself – and they’re showing me how to keep my room tidy as well – much to the delight of my partner Tara, who’s been by my side for more than two years now. She has a seven-year-old daughter, and I also have two boys, William and Jaxon, from previous partners. One of my big wishes for the future is that I can build a more regular relationship with them when they get older. I recently did a parenting course to improve my skills in that regard.
I spend a lot of time playing and watching sports. One of the best moments in my life was going to the national Street Soccer tournament in Sydney with the WA team. I’m not only into soccer, but also into basketball, cricket and footy. I’m a mad Perth Wildcats supporter, and also like Perth Glory FC. I play for the integrated footy team at Kingsway with my good friends and fellow Big Issue vendors Kellee and Jason, and basketball with another vendor, Hamish, and Jason. I’m going to have a crack at netball soon too.
Jason was the one that brought me to The Big Issue in 2012, and I love the work. It gives me some extra money and I love being out and about connecting with people. But most of all it has given me lots of new friendships with other vendors and Street Soccer players. I hope I can play soccer and work for The Big Issue for many more years. I would love to save enough money to see my dad who lives over in Sydney now!
Keith sells The Big Issue in London Court, St George’s Terrace, Perth.
Interview by Simon Grammes.
Photo by Ross Swanborough.