Ex-Basketball Player Poem by John Updike

Ex-Basketball Player

Rating: 5.0

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,
Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off
Before it has a chance to go two blocks,
At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth's Garage
Is on the corner facing west, and there,
Most days, you'll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out.

Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps—
Five on a side, the old bubble-head style,
Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.
One's nostrils are two S's, and his eyes
An E and O. And one is squat, without
A head at all—more of a football type.

Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards.
He was good: in fact, the best. In '46
He bucketed three hundred ninety points,
A county record still. The ball loved Flick.
I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.

He never learned a trade, he just sells gas,
Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while,
As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube,
But most of us remember anyway.
His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench.
It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though.

Off work, he hangs around Mae's Luncheonette.
Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball,
Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates.
Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods
Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers
Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads.

Frank Avon 14 September 2014

I love basketball. Bob Cousy and Pistol Pete Maravich were my heroes when I was young - in a way, still are. I love poetry. The late John Updike's Verse was one of the first books of poetry I ever owned; I still have it, a dime-store paperback. From this all the way to Midpoint and Endpoint he captures enduring images and themes, but always with a light touch. Because he was such a famous novelist, I think his reputation as a poet has been degraded, his poems neglected. Posthumously, he should be named a laureate - or given some other honor tgo recognize his genius.

2 0 Reply
Gajanan Mishra 06 September 2014

writing is good, thanks.

2 1 Reply
Error Success