Het was kielekiele

It was really really close
[het was kie-le-kie-le] 

When something was ‘kielekiele’ in Dutch it means it was a very close call, however with positive result. The present tense form (‘het is kielekiele’) can be used when the result is not yet known and that you can’t just tell yet.

You may also hear: ‘het was op het nippertje‘. The difference is that this expression takes on the meaning of ‘just making it’, ‘being just in time’ or ‘at the very last moment’, whereas ‘het was kielekiele’ is more generally used for a ‘close call’.

“Goede vlucht gehad?” – “Ja, maar ik had ‘m bijna gemist. Het was echt kielekiele. Ben zelfs omgeroepen!” – “Nou ja, dat meen je niet!” 
(“Did you have a good flight?” – “Yes, but I almost missed it. It was a very close call. They even announced my name!” – “No way, seriously?!” Lit.: “Was even announced!” – “…, that you don’t mean!”)

“Zo, dat was kielekiele man, waarom haal je zo dicht in??” 
(“Woah, that was close man, why do you overtake so close (to the other car)?”)

“Is de bal over de doellijn of niet?” – “Ik weet het niet, het is kielekiele. Wacht even op de herhaling…” 
(“Did the ball cross the (goal) line?” – “I don’t know, it’s a close call. Wait for the replay…”)

“Het was kielekiele, maar ik heb als één van de laatsten een iPhone 5 bemachtigd!” 
(“It was a close call, but I was one of the last to obtain an iPhone 5!”)

“Myriam, je hebt een 6, maar het was echt kielekiele. De volgende keer moet je je toets echt beter voorbereiden. Afgesproken?” 
(“Myriam, you got a 6, but it was really really close. Next time you have to prepare your test better. Deal?” Dutch test scores are at a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), with 6 a pass.)

– “Het was net aan”: it was just enough / we just made it.
– “Het was op het randje”: it was close. Lit.: ‘on the edge’, with ‘randje’ being the diminutive of ‘rand’: edge.
– “Het spant erom / het zal erom spannen”: it’s going to be a close call. Compare Spannend.

Related words:
Spannend: exciting, suspenseful [adjective].
– Opluchting: relief [noun] [de opluchting, de opluchtingen].

– “Wat een opluchting! Ik was bang dat je het niet zou redden!”
(“What a relief! I was afraid you wouldn’t make it!”)