Monday, February 2

Russell at the Line

A Blue Monday poem for the Blue Twelves


Russell at the Line
Still love ya, RW!
(An ode to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Northwest team that day:
The score in twenties, 8 to 4; two minutes more to play.
And when a pass to Kearse fell short, another timeout came.
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Russell could but get downfield in time—
We’d put up even money now, with Russell on the line.”

But another pass to Mathews left the Twelves in deep despair,
The ball went right toward the man, but missed him by a hair;
Upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy climbed,
There seemed but little chance of Russell getting to the line.

But Russ let fly another, to the wonderment of all,
And wide receiver Lockette snatched the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Ricky safe downfield. The tears left all eyes blurred.

From fifty thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the human skull and recoiled down the spine,
For Russell, mighty Russell, was advancing to the line.

There was ease in Russell’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Russell’s bearing and a smile lit Russell’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he waved that all was fine,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Russell at the line.

Ten million eyes were on him as his shoulder pads were girt;
Five million tongues applauded when he tugged upon his shirt;
Then while the writhing Patriot D bent over at the hip,
Defiance flashed in Russell’s eye, a sneer curled Russell’s lip.

And now the pigskin-covered tube came hurtling through the air,
Our Russell stood a-watching it in smiling grandeur there.
As downfield sturdy Jermaine Kearse, the ball tucked closely sped—
For thirty three amazing yards. And Russell shook his head.

From the couches and the benches there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Hug him! Hug our Chop Chop!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have mauled him had not Russell raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Russell’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the referee, the clock was ticking through;
But Russ still knew the way to play, and called for timeout two.

“You’ve 1:06 to clinch the game!” The timing just seemed flawed
But one scornful look from Russell and the stadium was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Russell wouldn’t let that clock tick down again.

The sneer is gone from Russell’s lip, the ball goes straight to Lynch,
Another four, and striking range! The final yard’s a clinch!
And now the quarter holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Russell’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children scoff,
But there is no joy in Twelve-ville—mighty Russell got picked off.

 --The Writing Therapist

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