High Pop Foul
Foul Ball ,
Fred Smilde, 1934
It was a June evening in 1959
I had just received my year-end grades
They were better than good.
My coach was full of congratulations
as he drove me and my teammates
to our evening baseball match.
My academic results
may be why I, a lousy fielder,
was put in the infield for the first-time ever.
Our pitcher was Gaetan Smith
an impressive athlete
who was negotiating a perfect game into the final inning.
Life is full of surprises
it can offer up its victories
hopefully many more than not.
But reversals, defeats and losses
are also part of Her agenda
and so it was on that June evening.
There was a high pop foul
over third base
I lost it in the lights.
The next pitch was a homer:
Gaetan would not go down in Valois history
as its first little leaguer to pitch a perfect game.
I sometimes wonder
whether Gaetan has forgiven me
and hope to hell he has.
I also ask myself
whether this episode
changed our trajectories.
There are moments in life
that keep you here or take you there
giving direction in the most unexpected ways
I have feelings of guilt about this June 1963 evening
that periodically return to challenge me
why couldn’t I catch this foul ball?
Was it about technical prowess?
was it because I lacked confidence?
and how, if at all, did it change my life?
And Gaeten’s: maybe my error at third base
was responsible for putting in place a process
a downside from which he could never recover
Perhaps it was a useful lesson in adversity
giving him a new strength
that helped him move on to higher ground
I hope you are at peace, Gaetan
Losing My Grippe