Do you remember in fifth grade
when I didn’t make the basketball team
and you told me not to cry
because men don’t cry?
And do you remember telling me
that’s the way it goes. Just accept it.
That’s the way what goes?
Basketball? Life? My life?
And accept what?
That I can sleep in on Saturday mornings
instead of playing basketball with my friends?
My friends who sneered at me and taunted me
like I was some worthless piece of crap.
My friends who will be immortalized
by the school and the other kids
because they made the team.
You didn’t even ask if I came close.
I was the last to be cut.
Not the first.
I almost made the team.
Why do they pick just twelve players?
Why not thirteen?
Do they have just twelve uniforms?
I’ll work and buy my own.
You don’t even have a name
if you get cut from the team.
The coach just calls out the names
of the boys making the team.
I never listened so carefully in my whole life.
I can’t believe I didn’t hear my name.
Maybe the coach just forgot to call my name.
Should I ask him if he forgot to call my name?
I don’t understand what I didn’t make the team.
Was it because of the two shots I missed?
Was it because the other boys’ dads knew the coach?
Why didn’t I make the team?
So what am I supposed to accept?
That I am a total loser,
and my life will never amount to anything?
That basketball isn’t my sport,
and I shouldn’t bother to tryout next year?
My life is over
and it’s barely started.
And you don’t even care!
What do I do instead of crying?
Just hold it in?
Go out and practice my shots?
Maybe I’ll just stop trying to be somebody
or make something of my life.
Maybe I’ll just run away
to some other place, and another family.
One that cares about me.
One that understands me
and helps me figure out what to do
with all this pain inside
that won’t go away,
no matter how hard I try.
You could have said you were sorry
that I didn’t make the team.
You could have said you’d help me
be a better player.
You could have said you’d talk to the coach
and find out why I didn’t make the team.
You could have said there were times in your life
when you didn’t make the team,
and you survived the pain of rejection,
and over time you grew stronger.
That’s the way it goes?
Do I have to figure all this out myself?
Why don’t men cry?
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(I have used a new reading style with this poem. Please let me know what you think. Also, in my reading I provide some context for this poem.)