Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kids & Pros

Cole @ NFL camp

My son works the bag with Jake Grove

All-American, played a few years
with the Raiders, then Miami

A local boy, once

His wily red beard curls maniacally around his lips
where he presses his face against the bag
in resistance

"Push! Push!
Push like you mean it!"

The whistle blows & they break off.

One retired player passes the ball
to another kid, from his wheel chair.

POW!

car crash loud & bodies flying
a seven year old creams
a stand up dummy, they
sprawl on the field

by the fence, an old coach,
more black than brown, laughs, laughs,
laughs wet & through his teeth

"That one---he's gonna be a bad person"

he laughs some more, til he spits up
a bit of lung

played for the Rams, i think

& clearing his mouth,
limps away in an odd gait, clapping

just to hear the clapping again

while we cut our souls walking the razor
between day dreamers & serial killers.

written for Poetry Jam and Theme Thursday 

Cole is at football camp with some former and still active NFL players this week. Overall, I have been impressed with the break out moments where they focus on character building. There are those moments such as this that I wonder at what we celebrate and at what cost.

65 comments:

Mary said...

One

happygirl said...

I once heard tell that every Monday, in the pros, is like recovering from being in a car crash on Sunday. I wish your boy well while at camp. :)

Mary said...

What stood out for me in this poem is the physical damage that the sport of football does to the bodies of its players as they age. The mention of the wheel chair, the odd gait, the spitting up a bit of lung. And still they love it! I hope your son learns much at this camp, especially the character building; but I also hope that someone really levels with these kids the price their bodies will pay if they follow their 'daydreams.'

Brian Miller said...

that is exactly what i wanted people to get mary...it is somewhat brutal just watching some of these 30 year olds walking around....

Raven said...

You have a knack to creating poignant scenes. Each one an excellent portrayal of characters and action. If you don,t known him, Google C. K. Williams. Your words remind me of him, maybe William Carlos Williams too. Yup, still at the OBX. Lots of rain ... it's OK, cause we are with the kids. Actually, I love the rain. I'll let you know when I post.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I think it's neat that those guys are donating their time for the camp. They may not be able to physically play anymore, but clearly their love for the game goes on.

DJan said...

I got it, too: the incredible physical toll the games takes on its players. And Cole is there learning from the best how to become like them? I hope he also notices how much it hurts when he slams his body into immovable objects... :-)

Gloria said...

I dont like specially some brutal sports Brian Im not sure. Teach the kids nice and good persons I dont know:(

Gloria said...

My dad was basketball coach many years but is really different :)

SueAnn Lommler said...

"coughs up a lung" Ha!!!!
And I could get the sense of the effort put forth by all in your words. Football camp...I remember those days!!
Hugs
SueAnn

JANU said...

People pay their price for following their passion,some ups and many pitfalls... which you have elucidate in your poem.

the walking man said...

We all sell ourselves for something. Most of us get damaged by that something sooner or later. A true working life, even for one who works smart is a brutal master on a bady not designed for half of what we make them do.

This is the primary reason they invented politicians as a career, they never have to go to war, or work for a meal, but get to tell everyone else they (the everyone else) are not working hard enough.

Daydreamertoo said...

Wow, you certainly got to the nitty gritty in this one with the old guy coughing up a lung and yes, the damage all of this does to a body and, knowing the difference between serial killer and daydreamers.
Phewww.. Amazing write again!~!

izzy said...

Yup, I think there is a razor edge of too much- commit body and soul to what? for how long, at what cost?
Balance is a good thing alongside
of passion- Thanks!

Myrna R. said...

Sounds like Cole is having a good time, learning.

It's sad how these men's bodies are so hurt from a game. I'm not a sports fan, and I always wonder about the injuries, the money, the emotional investment people make in these games.

Bossy Betty said...

Ah yes. Football. It's so singularly American, isn't it? Have you ever read the essay "Smash They Neighbor" by John McMurtry?

kaykuala said...

A lot of excitements and very technical. Everyone on the edge of their seats and enjoying! What are not seen are the 'damages', the crippled and the discarded. Your verse is vivid in this. Great verse, Brian!

Hank

Pat Hatt said...

Irking my ocd with the lung
Blah to the spit up being flung
But yeah not possible to do
And very nice for them to
But yeah it takes its toll
Playing that is surely never my goal

Daniel said...

Interesting perspective as you ended this one. Kind of makes you ponder a bit.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

Great poem, Pops. As much as I don't play team sports now, I think there's a huge potential for teaching teamwork, self-sacrifice and character there. Hope your son has a great time at camp.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

while we cut our souls walking the razor between day dreamers & serial killers.

Hi! Brian...
There are those moments such as this that I wonder at what we celebrate and at what cost.

Tks, for the explanation and I don't like certain sports, but I wonder too!

Thanks for sharing the image too...it compliment your poetic words.

"overall,I have been impressed with the break out moments where they focus on character building. "

[I still hope that you son [Cole] enjoy camp and learn something about character building too!]

deedee ;-)

Helen said...

You've taken a heavy topic, combined it with a boy's athletic interest and talent ~~ turned it into a thought provoking work. I also think of the old pros who are turning up with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases all those years after.

Eva Gallant said...

Sports camps are great for kids! My grandson just got back from basketball camp. Next month he goes to soccer camp!

She Writes Here Now said...

while we cut our souls walking the razor between day dreamers & serial killers.

Stunning line. Congrats to Cole :)!

Steve E said...

There MUST be more football pros and ex-pros spending their philosophies on kids, than there are serial killers doing the same.

Thanks God!

Mrsupole said...

Hi Brian,

Out here they make the boys play touch football and have pretty much stopped contact football in the schools until High School due to the studies that have shown how much brain damage a football player receives over his career and the younger they start then the worse the damage is.

I personally would not take a chance with putting a child into football knowing his odds are not great, plus they seem to have the shortest careers of all the team sports. I also have heard that boxing is just as bad if not worse. So after thinking things over, if I had a child going into team sports, well my choice would be baseball. They have the longest career, eat lots of hot dogs and apple pies, play with their balls in public and other body parts. I mean how can there be a better sport, and while they are spitting, scratching their asses and balls, picking their noses, they are getting paid a ton of money. And most of them just stand around and do nothing. Let's face it the only better career move one could have is to work for the gobment and you know how I feel about the gobment.

Thanks for such an inspirational story for this weeks Theme Thursday. Loved it!!!

God bless.

Laurie Kolp said...

It is good for children to hear positives from role models like that. We don't let our boys play football, though. My uncle had permanent back damage from doing so and Pete has neck problems that are hereditary.

Janice said...

You covered the full spectrum of football here...the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Claudia said...

while we cut our souls walking the razor
between day dreamers & serial killers....dang..this is what i think professional sport is..they are dreamers and killers all at once...just think about that russian girls that do balance beam and such things...they are trained and trained to the max and one day end up in a wheel chair.. sometimes sport is not really a game..

Claudia said...

oh...and i know football only from the peanuts..ya know...smiles

Susan said...

Because of your title "Kids and Pros," I tried to imagine each pro as the "local boy" and boys they once were--and realized you didn't describe youth at all except as a force moving against an immovable force " . . . while we cut our souls walking the razor / between day dreamers & serial killers." Is we the parents? And then--knowing you make specific choices in your narratives of action and dialogue, that you model this for me--I fell onto the field where I too had the prayer that there is more than a razor's edge of choice between the lazy and the bad, that even this field reveals a widening of possibility for the child who teams there.

Tara Miller said...

I've been impressed with this camp so far and the character they are working to instill in these kids. The passion that most (if not all) of these former players have courses through their veins and they live and breathe the sport (when they were active in it). I'm sure they knew and understood the dangers but their love and passion overrides that in such a way that they can accept the consequences. I can understand that because that's how I felt about ballet. Every sport (when that dedicated and passionate) can take a toll on one's body. The question is as you put it so well: How far will one go to pursue their dream? I think that in the future I'll be paying for all of my years of dancing ballet....but to me....it was well worth it. Then again, I'm not a football player getting knocked in the head and facing serious injury.

I applaud these guys for taking time to volunteer and be a role model to kids about making good choices in all areas of their life.

Titanium said...

"People fancy they are enjoying themselves, but they are really tearing out their wings for the sake of an illusion." -Rumi


There's really not much more I could possibly add to his words, or yours. You related the movement, the force, the drive and ambition and with it, the tapestry of pain.

It's not so much WHAT we do as WHY we do it... in the end, we dance into the sunset holding only what we've given away. It sounds like these men are giving the best of what they were to those who are coming behind them. That? Is beyond good.

Alice Audrey said...

From charming to scary, you got me on this one.

Magpie said...

Yes, what is the NFL all about and why do we pay it such homage?

adan said...

heavy duty stuff brian, glad you're keeping an eye on those boys, they don't realize what you're really doing, but they'll remember you there, watching, they can feel it -

"he laughs some more, til he spits up
a bit of lung

played for the Rams, i think"

man oh man...

kolembo said...

...spits out a bit of lung...!
Fascinating trying to watch you, watching them, and reading your thoughts!

ayala said...

Hard truths...nice write, Brian. I hope Cole enjoys camp :)

Mary Mansfield said...

A great write! Lots of great contrasts in this poem. Love that last line, just perfect! Sounds like Cole's having a great time...thanks so much for sharing with us at Poetry Jam this week!

Mama Zen said...

Wow. Some great observations in this. It made me think.

Grace said...

I am glad that your son is enjoying the camp and learning passion from these players ~ I like the way you described the ill effects of the sport on their bodies ~ It's a stiff prize but a lot of these folks will live for that moment of glory or for that clapping one more time ~

manicddaily said...

First, I have to say that the last time I heard the words "push like you mean it, " I was no where near a football field (smiles!) I might not have minded that!

Agh.

Descriptions great. Weirdness abounds. k.

Sreeja said...

yes the real spirit of daydream and some sad realities.....enjoyed....

Fred Rutherford said...

nice job showing the different facets to sport, football in particular. You know, as a kid I always wanted to go to one of the camps, never did though. Your son will forever remember this experience. And Jake Grove, I used to really like him in Oakland, but once a guy signs with the Dolphins, can't like them anymore lol Nice piece.

Victoria said...

Brian, your poems continue to thrill me with their hard stark beauty. You do get both the draw and the cost of football in this poem. It hurts to read it, and I feel both the magnetism and repulsion regarding the whole scene of football.

Valerie said...

I didn't realise the damage football (American) could do, but appreciate that it's good for building character.

Kris said...

Great thoughts there. I've been helping run the local Auskick group (Australian Rules Football) with my oldest. There is nothing like the rampart energy of thirty five and six year olds to wear you out!

ladyfi said...

Brutal and physical! Gritty writing.

Dave King said...

A real mix of emotions reading this and so beautifully summed up in the devastatingly good final couplet. I'm joining in the clapping!

JStar said...

I am so glad I had girls instead of boys....This is a very brutal sport...

CiCi said...

It is great fun to watch the games but there is always the tug on the heart for the players and all their bodies endure.

Annmarie Pipa said...

my husband played college football..why oh why would he ever want his sons to do this?
we one time researched what all those pro football players who made all kinds of $ are doing now....a sad commentary on how we use these players for our entertainment.

Joyce Lansky said...

They sure do start them young. I know too many X-football players with injuries. My son played soccer and had injuries from it too.

http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

Daydreamer said...

Much like genius and insanity, there really is a thin line isn't there? It's all about what we do with it. A great write.

Margaret said...

drama camp is a bit easier on the body... but they are working them from morn 'till night. Glad my kids eat and breath "drama" :) Football camp in this hot weather... it will certainly make "men" out of them :)

Loredana Donovan said...

Oh, I like baseball a lot better, gentler and more magical. Think about all the baseball movies that have been made, like "Field of Dreams," a propos of the topic of dreams :) A vivid poem, you certainly don't hold back with the imagery! :)

Goofball said...

quite some interesting characters there, so it seems. Hope Cole has fun.

Teri M said...

It will be so hard for me if Eli wants to play football - I will worry so, but support him nonetheless. Hope your little guy has a blast!!

Sue said...

My boys played high school football. I couldn't even stand to watch their games.

Seriously. They were receivers and runners. They were small.

And more than a few times, they were injured.

Having said that, they loved every minute.

"/

Secret Agent Woman said...

And this was an enjoyable experience?

ccchampagne.com said...

I hope you know how much I love your writing, but this one didn't connect with me. Possibly because I don't understand American Football... Well written, as always, but I felt distanced and I don't normally with your pieces.

Hannah said...

Seriously....your poems always, always pack a serious amount of imagery, emotion and raw poetry goodness. Your character in this one is written well...I think you'd be an amazing novelist as well as poet, Brian!!

turtlememoir said...

just a killer conclusion, brian - those last few lines... & i'm glad they spend some time working on character too

Syd said...

I am no fan of football. Getting beat up and piled on by 250 pounders isn't my idea of a fun time.
I hope that Cole has a good time in camp. It's the character building that's important.

poeticlicensee said...

When young, cheered at the head-knocking & hard hits, blocking, tackling & jock worshiping but, now, I asking the same as you, should we encourage "standing ground" or concentrate more on working out, negotiation & compromise...