On With The Game Poem by Max Reif

On With The Game

Rating: 4.9

On a baseball team
after 45 years —
not even baseball, really,
its handicapped cousin,
slow-pitch softball,

does not come easy.
On the field, my body
still leans with each pitch,
instinctive as a rabbit,
toward where
the batter's swing points,

but my arm won't get the ball
all the way from third to first,
the fly balls wobble in my field
of vision as I chase them,
and at bat sometimes
I hit pop flies —
because I dropp my shoulder,
a helpful teamate said.

The past two Sundays
in our practice games,
the premonition in my belly
turned out a truthful augury —
I was chosen last,
a catastrophe I never
had to deal with as a boy.

The guys are friendly.
It's not high-pressure sport,
to say the least.

But in America, each time
a man walks out
onto a baseball field,

he bears a world of skills
and instincts, or their lack,
and gains admission to the tribe —
its social world, not just the game — or not.

I think of how our old coach
used to tell my boyhood neighbor,
'You throw just like a girl! '
and how that boy's trek
out to center field each inning
must have felt like miles to him.

I never thought
about it much, though,
not till now.


This piece really engaged me. The reader is left wondering why you think of it 'now'... charming, with that unusual breed of wistful-yet-dismissive; inspired. t x

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Scarlett Treat 19 March 2007

My poor old stiffend bones creaked and groaned, and the muscles that I don't use much any more are sore from this poem....and I seem to recognize that feeling of being chosen last...from somewhere in my past. Great thinking, Max, that you have come around to finding what it feels like to be the last one chosen. Sure puts another light on things, doesn't it, and make you feel for the child - the one making that long walk - and my anger at the coaches who hurt a child this way! !

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Raynette Eitel 19 March 2007

Max, I was often the kid chosen last on the team in elementary school...a terrible humiliation that probably left me ignoring sports to this day. And I can appreciate what happens to an athlete's skills after 45 years. This is a poignant write. Raynette

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Brian Dorn 19 March 2007

Holy cow... great stuff, Max! This goes way beyond baseball... it's truly a big league poem. Wel done! ! Brian

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Max Reif 19 March 2007

sending this poem thru a 2nd time, more in 'prime time'. one comment yesterday: Declan McHenry (3/18/2007 4: 10: 00 PM) Max, a poignant and finely expressed piece. One of those 'eureka' moments captured.

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Max Reif

Max Reif

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