Calling Audibles Part V: The Agony of Defeat

The Agony of Defeat–On the way home from Virginia Tech

Crisp fall afternoons
repetition, one more time
details, instincts, well worn paths
putting the pieces together
of a winning combination

step by step
moving toward the present goal
careful attention
solid determination

confidence builds
coming into its own
in time for the flurry
the buzz of a night
with lights blazing
and expectations high

don’t lose sight
or hope
don’t forget the process
the steps
the feeling those steps
you can do this
one step at a time

stay focused
don’t flinch
breathe and move
in concert with the ways
you’ve come to know
by heart

even so
yes, still, with all the
and know-how
with your heart so fully
open to the possibility
that this can be your moment
this could be the day

even so
unraveled moments
and lost connections
jarred bodies
and aching bones
the thrill of what might have been
gives way to the hard thud
what is

time gone
energy retracts
and disapproval looms
and not another
place to find
to set yourself in motion

no longer in sync with a dream
now you waken
in your exhaustion
and realize
all over
the bitter way
those fall afternoons
so utterly incomplete

that is the agony of defeat

8 thoughts on “Calling Audibles Part V: The Agony of Defeat”

  1. Terry says:

    Brilliant work this week, Marcia. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    1. Marcia says:

      Thank you, Terry, for walking along with us.

  2. Karen Harp says:

    Sorry about the loss – thoroughly enjoyed reading the series – oh how true about your husband’s intelligence. It is funny how many games have been won with hindsight. I have lived through this for 30+ years although on the high school level. I usually position myself far from the rumbling crowd but last Friday night I stood on the track close to the sidelines. For the first time, in many years, I heard the screaming, yelling, foul language, mostly from women, like I have not witnessed in years. It did make me understand the actions of their children better though, sadly knowing this is what these children live with on a daily basis. It made me understand more of why my husband does this job year after year. Yes, he has been very successful as a high school football coach when we tally the win and losses but he has also been successful when those he has coached return to let him know what he meant to them as a part of their high school years. Take Care – God be with the Shoop family in the coming months.

    1. Marcia says:

      Thank you, Karen. I know that Coach Harp and you have touched a lot of people’s lives. Sounds like you might head back to your normal seat next time! I had a 3 seat buffer zone around me last night but people decided to come and sit there anyway even though they were my seats. When they decided to start spewing about John I calmly told them they could go sit in their real seats if they wanted to yell about John. I told them they couldn’t sit in seats John, himself, paid for and yell about him. They quieted down–but next time I need to enforce my buffer zone from the beginning! All the best to whole Harp family. Go ADS!

  3. Susan Steinberg says:

    Thank you, Marcia. We all sat down to watch the game last night, anticipating great things! Your poem stunningly captures the roller coaster ride of unfolding and then final defeat. We felt it here as fans looking at the T.V.; hard to imagine the how the players, coaches and their families experienced the loss. But you gave voice to that feeling in ways few people can.

    I just read through the whole series. . .when is the book coming out? Your reflections and questions are so insightful and important, and you’re in a position to contribute to much-needed change–wherever you are next year (here in Chapel Hill, I pray!).

    God’s peace be with you and your family in the months ahead.

    1. Marcia says:

      Thanks for reading, Susan. I know a lot of people are disappointed with the game and felt it deeply. It was a heartbreaker. I am working on my book on sports and theology. This series has given me a more immediate way to share some of what the book will be about. Hopefully it will see the light of day some day! Thank you for your prayers and your support.

  4. Beverly Rudolph says:

    Marcia–with a nutty week behind me, I have just read 2-5 on this quiet Saturday morning. So profound, true, and universal. My own sports fanaticism has always been a mirror for me, even at age 10, for revealing both the healthy and ridiculously unhealthiness in my like almost nothing can. And there is great value in that!

    Keep writing, my sister! I love you!

    1. Marcia says:

      Thank you for reading, Beverly. You are so right–a mirror for our very best and our very worst and every thing in between. I will keep writing–you do the same!

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