Tributes from friends, family and teammates have been pouring in to honour Keir White, a keen footballer from Kilmarnock, who passed away recently after going missing.
The 24-year-old played for Bonnyton Thistle, Darvel Juniors and Dean Thistle, among others, and also coached at Crosshouse FC. Each of the clubs was quick to pay respects to their former player, who was an extremely popular and well-known person in the local community who touched many lives, on and off the field. This writer was lucky enough to know him in both respects.
During his time with Bonnyton Thistle, Keir won the Scottish Youth FA Cup. It was on that day, May 6 2012, when I personally had the pleasure of meeting and sharing a drink with Keir for the first time, as our teams both hailed from Kilmarnock and both brought back Scottish Cups that very day. Ever since then he was always quick to say ‘Alright mate, how’s things?’ on a night out or at the side of the football pitch. Every single time without fail, every single time with a smile and handshake. It was a privilege to know him.
Dean Thistle FC, for whom Keir played during his younger years (pictured, below), said they lost a “brother” and that he was part of a team that “looked out for and respected” every coach and every teammate. They added: “We ask that everyone spares a thought tonight for this fantastic young man, the club would also like to pass on their deepest sympathy to his mother Donna and all the family.”
A spokesperson for Crosshouse Community FC said: “We had the privilege of getting to know Keir when he was a volunteer coach at the club; he helped out for a year while his younger brother Jack played with our 04s.
“Keir was a genuinely nice young man and he was someone the younger players could look up to. One thing’s for sure, you will be sadly missed and thought of fondly, RIP Keir.”
Bonnyton Thistle wrote: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former player Keir White.
“He was more than just a talented player, he was an extremely good-natured individual, a jovial character and above all a popular lad. He was loved in the dressing room and will be sorely missed by all.
Everyone at the club would like to extend our sympathies to his family, girlfriend and friends at this time.”
His girlfriend Amy Collins posted a heartfelt message on social media, paying tribute to her “handsome boy”. She wrote: “Thank you for making the time I spent with you so special, you never know what’s hiding behind a big gorgeous smile. Be kind to your loved ones, you never know when it’s going to be the last time you’ll see them.
“I love you forever, my heart is all yours.”
Other close friends and teammates alike have been sharing their memories, and fellow Rangers fans have been urging one another to hold a minute’s applause at the club’s next game, this Saturday, in the 24th minute, in his memory. A funding page has also been set up to raise money for male mental health charities.
The sheer amount of messages posted online is testament to Keir’s charisma and warm personality. The overwhelming sentiment is that he always looked out for others before himself, which perhaps makes the nature of his passing all the more tragic.
Fraser Gall was one of Keir’s close friends and a long-time teammate. He said: “Keir was always bubbly and full of laughter growing up. A boy that would do anything for you and appreciative of anything you would do for him. Holidays and nights out he was always the entertainer.
“We both signed for Darvel Juniors around the same time and spent four-and-a-half years together where we grew even closer. He always joked about being the ‘Darvel Cafu’ and I still remember him scoring a wondergoal against Lugar that he went on about for years.”
Fraser added: “I genuinely believe Keir was the one who gelled everyone together. I will never forget him and the massive impact he had on mine and many other’s lives. Teammate, Friend, Legend.”
Peter Wood played with Keir at Bonnyton Thistle and said: “I remember first meeting Keir aged seven, when I played for Dreghorn and he for Crosshouse. Back then he was still the same friendly character.
“We kept in touch until we finally ended up on the same team at Bonnyton 19s. We were all close but Keir was central to it as he was always up for having team nights out but also with his bubbly personality leading him to being one of the big characters in the changing room.
“He was always full of banter, laughs and was able to make light humour of even the serious situations. He was a top player and was definitely one of the team’s consistent performers. I’m sure the full team will have nothing but top memories to reflect back on when we think of Keir. He’ll be sorely missed by a lot of people as he was a popular boy.”
Neill McPherson, who also knew Keir on the pitch and then became friends with him off it, said: “An absolute gem of a boy who’s personality and smiled lit up any room, even on their own darkest day. Won’t meet many like him.”
Reid Fisher travelled with Keir to Rangers matches and said he was “an absolute gem of a boy” and a great friend. “Donald Keir White, where do I begin?” He said. “Always up for a good laugh and full of carry on. The boy would do absolutely anything for me and was just a great friend. Every time I seen his name pop up on my phone it would make me laugh before I even opened the text message as I knew it would be something stupid and have about 5 “mates” in it, even if it was 5 words long. Every Old Firm game, Keir would come cruising down my street with the songs on and the scarf hanging out the window buzzing for it, and even if we went and got beat 4-0 he would still have that big smile on his face from ear to ear. Reid joked that while Keir was a talented footballer, he never scored by him. He added: “All joking aside the boy was one in a million, won’t find anyone else like him, he was loved and adored by everyone and will be sorely missed, but one thing is for sure you will always be in our hearts mate. I know fine well you will be there looking down on me and over my shoulder for the rest of my life, rest in peace brother I love you always.”
Ian Higgins, President of Bonnyton Thistle, said that Keir was “A guy larger than life, a character full of fun.”
His family can be proud in the knowledge that they raised a kind, thoughtful and well-liked man. His younger brother, Jack will always have a role model to look up to. Keir’s cousin, Sarah Balmer, wrote: “You were honestly the best cousin to have, you were more like a brother to me, with your quirky personality and the daft jokes you came out with. I love you so much, fly high.”
Jordan Hunter recalled a particular memory of Keir that demonstrated his selfless nature.
“My girlfriend was in a bad car accident, no one would take me to hospital to see her. Keir was working the next day but he still got out his bed to take me, just shows how much he really cared about his pals, heart of gold. He was amazing at solving everyone else’s problems and I’ll forever miss and love him, gone but never forgotten.”
Lauren Lowe, another friend of Keir’s, sent a personal message saying: “Keir was such a good guy and he helped anyone with anything no matter what, he put others before himself 24/7 and even though he’s gone he’ll still be one of the best people out.
“He was one in a million and there’s never going to be another Keir White.”
Everyone in the football community will surely extend their deepest condolences to Keir’s family and girlfriend. They all hopefully know that they are in many people’s thoughts at this very difficult time.
It was a privilege to write this piece, and a privilege to know Keir.
A poem composed by one of Keir’s teammates is pictured below, followed by other tribute messages.