“The Race”

“The Race” – by Dee Groberg

“Quit!  Give up!  You’re beaten!”

They shout at me, and plead

“There’s just too much against you now.

This time you can’t succeed.”

And as I start to hang my head

In front of failure’s face

My downward fall is broken by

The memory of a race.

And hope refills my weakened will

As I recall that scene

For, just the thought of that short race

Rejuvenates my being.


A children’s race, young boys, young men

Now, I remember well,

Excitement, sure!  But also fear,

It wasn’t hard to tell.


They all lined up so full of hope

Each thought to win that race,

Or, tie for first, if not that,

At least take second place.


And fathers watched from off the side

Each cheering for his son.

And each boy hoped to show his dad,

that he would be the one.


The whistle blew, and off they went

Young hearts and hopes afire

To win, to be the hero there

Was each young boy’s desire.


And one boy in particular,

Whose dad was in the crowd,

Was running near the head and thought:

“My dad will be so proud!”


But as they speeded down the field

Across a shallow dip

The little boy who thought to win,

Lost his step and slipped.


Trying hard to catch himself,

His hands flew out to brace

And ‘mid the laughter of the crowd

He fell flat on his face.


So, down he fell, and with him hope

– he couldn’t win it now –

Embarrassed, sad, he only wished

To disappear somehow.


But, as he fell, his dad stood up,

And showed his anxious face,

Which to the boy so clearly said:

“Get up and win the race.”


He quickly rose, no damage done,

– behind a bit, that’s all –

And ran with all his mind and might

To make up for his fall.


So, anxious to restore himself

– to catch up and to win –

His mind went faster than his legs;

He slipped and fell again!


He wished, then, he had quit before

With only one disgrace.

“I’m hopeless as a runner now;

I shouldn’t try to race.


But, in the laughing crowd he searched

And found his father’s face.

That steady look that said again!

“Get up and win the race.”


So, up he jumped, to try again

– ten yards behind the last –

“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought

‘I’ve got to move real fast.”


Exceeding everything he had

He gained back eight or ten,

But trying so, to catch the lead,

He slipped and fell again!


Defeat! He lay there silently

– a tear dropped from his eye –

“There is no sense in running more;

Three strikes, I’m out, why try?”


The will to rise had disappeared

All hope had fled away

So far behind; so error prone

A loser all the way.


“I’ve lost, so what’s the use,” he thought

“I’ll live with my disgrace.”

But, then he thought about his dad,

Who, soon, he’d have to face.


“Get up!” an echo sounded low,

“Get up, and take your place

You were not meant for failure here,

Get up, and win the race.”


With borrowed will, “Get up,” it said

“You haven’t lost at all.

For winning is no more than this;

To rise each time you fall.”


So, up he rose to run once more,

And with a new commit

He resolved that win, or lose,

At least he wouldn’t quit.


So far behind the others now

– the most he’d ever been –

Still, he gave it all he had,

And ran as though to win.


Three times he’d fallen stumbling.

Three times he’d rose again.

Too far behind to hope to win

He still ran to the end.


They cheered the winning runner,

As he crossed the line first place,

Head high, and proud, and happy.

No falling, no disgrace.


But, when the fallen youngster

Crossed the line last place,

The crowd gave him the greater cheer

For finishing the race.


Even though he came in last.

With head bowed head low, unproud,

You would have thought he won the race

To listen to the crowd.


And to his dad, he sadly said,

“I didn’t do so well.”

“To me, you won!” his father said,

“You rose each time you fell.”



And now when things seem dark and hard,

And difficult to face.

The memory of that little boy

Helps me to win my race.


For all of life is like that race

With ups and downs and all,

And all you have to do to win,

Is rise each time you fall.

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