Patrina Pink, Gleaner Writer
In celebration of his exploits on the field of play, the body of slain Waterford High School goalkeeper O'keeffe 'Bill' Lewis was taken to Dovecot Memorial Park with the sound of World Cup anthem Waving Flag blaring from speakers atop the hearse.
It was an appropriate song for the 17-year-old, who friends say once envisioned becoming one of Jamaica's, if not the world's, best goalkeepers. His funeral was football themed, the programme and coffin decorated with photographs of Lewis in his brilliant blue jersey and yellow shorts, his hands on his hips and a smile on his face.
"Bill was a spark. He faced life with smiles and set his sights on achieving whatever task he set out to do," remarked his coach and teacher, Floyd Coke, who delivered the eulogy. Lewis' funeral was attended by a number of Waterford High School football team members, as well as other teachers and students, and took place at the Waterford Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portmore, St Catherine, yesterday.
The team made a special tribute to the youngster and recited a football chant over his coffin. The scene was almost too much for some who became overwhelmed with emotions when team members chanted "never say die".
Troy James, a family friend, sang the funeral favourite, Please Remember Me, which was powerfully received. One woman carrying a baby fell to the ground in sorrow and, like a row of dominoes, others threw themselves down calling out to both God and Lewis.
His former team members, who acted as pall-bearers, reflected on the effect he had on their performance, as well as the special spirit he brought to the locker room.
"He was a strong keeper and a good friend," remarked Theodore Thomas, an 18-year-old forward, who said he would miss Lewis' mischief making.
"When we were at football camp, he used to wake us in the night and we would box," Thomas said. "Sometimes, he would wake you up and box you, so one night, everybody wake him up and box him."
Grinning, Thomas added that getting back at Lewis that night was something the team would always remember.
Among those who paid tribute were the Waterford Choir and Robert Miller, special adviser to Minister of Education, Andrew Holness.
Lewis' brother, who was unable to attend, sent word with another family member in a special tribute. In this message, Lewis' alias 'Bill' was broken down to mean 'Brilliant, Intelligent Loyal and Loving'.
'Loving' scored best with friends and family members who described the young man as deeply affectionate and a family man.
Lewis was gunned down at his home in Portmore on November 16 last year. Just 11 days later, Waterford played in the Manning Cup final for the first time in their history, losing 3-0 to Jamaica College.