Hockey Road

The rink lay open to the falling snow;
the temperature felt like twenty below.
We panted and puffed and squinted our eyes
determined to break a 1-1 tie.

Late in the third, my feet were numb,
a price to pay for hockey fun.
I could hardly feel the stick in my hands;
I could barely see the ghostly fans.

The puck jumped loose from the tangled play
and I skated clear on a breakaway.
Without any time to worry or think,
I headed south on the whitening rink.

Straight ahead, the goalie stood;
he didn’t move like I thought he would.
His net seemed big as an ogre’s cave
or a tombstone built for a giant’s grave.

I cradled the puck to my forehand side,
pulled it back and let it fly.
I watched it sail to the frosty twine
and knew at once the prize was mine.

My very first goal in my very first game,
a fleeting moment of on-ice fame.
It sparked a passion that took firm hold
for a life-long journey down hockey road.

               Keith Worthington                from After the Flood: Hockey Poems

from: “Rink Man” in After the Flood: Hockey Poems

“Hey, Mr. Oliver.”
He stopped,
peered from light into half light.
Vague recognition set in.
Then silence; neither of us wanting to explain.
“Nice flood,” I finally said.
“Thanks. It set up quick tonight.”
He stood still, stickhandled in place.
Soft hands, deft touch.
“Goodnight Mr. Oliver.”
“See ya, kid.”

Figure of Speech

Not young men with families,
not young ladies with college degrees,
just boots on the ground.

Not souls, not intellects, not creative hands,
not doctors, not scientists, not keepers of the land.

What’s that sound, Captain?
Boots on the ground, my son.

How many are there, Captain?
Ten thousand outward bound.

What becomes of them, Captain?
Some are lost and never found.

Who are they really, Captain?
Boots on the ground.

       Keith Worthington

Ski Buddies

I was told you were killed near Kandahar
while I skied at Lake Louise.
A roadside bomb awaited you
as I cruised among glades and trees.

Your body parts, they gathered and lay
in a coffin sealed so tight.
They brought you home in the cargo hold
beneath our flag of red and white.

Remember those times (not long ago)
we skied together at Lake Louise?
The same old mountains gathered ’round
to watch us do as we pleased.

Your tour of duty became Kandahar;
mine continued at Lake Louise.
How can there be on the very same Earth
two places such as these?

On my final descent from Top of the World
regret will accompany me
and two young men will disappear
among the ghostly trees.

Keith Worthington

from Poet on a Cargo Plane

Marion, Beside the Lake

A black and white photograph of Mom
on the dock at Lake Minnewanka—
shy smile, stylish dress, young legs.

I like to think she and Dad arrived by train,
Roy’s CPR pass in his breast pocket.
I like to think they held hands in the day coach,
anticipating their future,
excited to be a couple.

This is years before life began to take its toll—
before children, the War, a return to work,
before accidents and other setbacks.

That bright summer day near Banff,
if I had been a stranger strolling nearby,
I would have thought,
What a pretty girl.
What a glorious world.

Keith Worthington

P1030233

Muslim Lady

Heading toward the adjacent rink,
I feel I am confronting her.
We are foreigners:
she with her hijab and long black dress,
me—helmet, visor—full equipment.
I smile; she smiles back.
Our common ground—skates on ice.

She pushes a training aid for balance,
hardly lifting her blades,
as though afraid the surface will crack.
I turn to watch her journey—
elegant in its awkwardness.

Keith Worthington

from After the Flood: Hockey Poems

After The Flood: Hockey Poems