Sport Authority

Soccer shirtYou step into manhood
in your yellow and black uniform,
whistle wrapped round your wrist.
“Blow the whistle a little louder ref!”
shouts the coach of the Lightning Strikes,
a band of 8-year-olds in neon green,
already imagining themselves, one day, on the big screen,
the crowds, arms raised, deafening with their cheers,
waves of sound banging through the skies,
shouting as their parents and coaches do now.
Five years ago, you were one of those boys.

Today, authority rode nervous on your shoulders on the way to the field,
chattering, fretting, words stuttering out.
Fidgeting with your uniform, checking for the quarter in your pocket,
“I didn’t practice blowing my whistle,” you worried.
And me, the mom, how little I know:
“It’s a whistle. How hard can it be?”

The youngest of two,
authority is not often yours.
Your sister,
so damn sure of everything she thinks she knows.
Her criticism descends, and you retreat.

But you know the game —
playing on the field,
watching on TV —
as the black and white ball knows your feet.
Smallest on your own team,
you steal past the tall, staggering boys,
unafraid of what you know.
Instinct.
Communion.

Your first game now as ref,
it’s you and the boys (and their dads and their coaches).
They all know the game, or
think they do.
The coach of the Strikes,
burly and red-faced,
he would be the ref too,
if not for your yellow shirt.

You know this game.
Now it’s time
to grow
into your Authority.
Your name now: “Hey, ref!”

whistle

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Posted in Poetry. 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Sport Authority”

  1. Julie Yamamoto Says:

    Ah, sister, you’re on to me. You figured out that this poem wasn’t just about Daniel! You should have been an English major.

  2. LAT Says:

    Not so easy being a “grown up” with authority and responsibilities! It all would seem so easy if you know the game and can blow a whistle. No matter how much you have learned and know you know of the game, there will always be those that think they know the game better and will turn on you just because they think they can. No, not so easy to be the one of authority and see the other side of where you have spent your life — staying inbounds and doing what you are told. Too late! You can’t turn back and be the child who plays for love of the game. You can only go forward and become what you are meant to become knowing that there will always be critics. Do what you do, hold your head up high, know that you will make mistakes, but don’t let anyone tell you you are no good. Those people are not only wrong in how they express their opinions, but they are the ones that are no good (at least in being a coach, parent, support for “their” team) for they are out of bounds, not you. You are now the authority with responsibility to respect the game, the rules, the players, the teams, the coaches and, yes, the fans. But give yourself the respect for yourself and the job you do; that is equally important. As tough as a job that it can sometimes be, don’t let others steal your love of the game, and always remember there life experiences here to be learned. It is not just about the game. Such is life.

    Best of luck to Daniel. He will find his way and be just great!


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