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Keeping Score: Sports Poems for Every Season

by Robert Hamblin


The Way to Watch a Football Game

Not from a reserved seat
in the brightly lit stadium,
wrapped in the blanket
of the anonymous crowd,
with the players
lined and numbered in place
like pieces on a chess board
or monotonous, repetitive figures
in a video game.

But, say, from the alley
that runs behind the stadium,
standing in the dark,
peering through the fence
and thickly planted trees
intended to obscure the view
of those who refuse to pay
the price of conformity.

Watch the quarterback
lodge the ball in the branches
of a maple tree.
Watch the runner turn end
to disappear in a rush
of moving leaves.
Look for him to reappear
beyond the next tree.
He may or may not.
Watch the defenders
play hide-and-seek
among the high hedges.
Read the tackle from the roar
of the largely invisible crowd.
Watch the receiver
leaping for the rising moon.

You won't need
to see the scoreboard.
You already know
who's won.



In Keeping Score, Hamblin celebrates sport as both a participant and a spectator. The heat of competition, the camaraderie of the team, and the memories of games and athletes past, in both victory and defeat, are captured here. Keeping Score is an engaging poetic record of a life on the field and court and on the sidelines.


Robert Hamblin’s Keeping Score is, indeed, an offering of “God’s plenty,” poems ranging, in subject, from childhood baseball to pole vaulting. There is even one about pole vaulting. It is, without question, the most comprehensive collection of sports poems, by one author, on the market. And for anyone who cares about sport and poetry, Hamblin’s words, like those of the early radio sportscasters he admired, are proclamations “from angelic messengers.”
— Don Johnson, editor of Hummers, Knucklers and Slow Curves


Robert Hamblin’s Keeping Score celebrates the whole range of Homo ludens: the player on the field or floor, the coach on the bench, the fan in the stands — the passion, the joy, the sorrow, the pathos. As well, these delicately nuanced poems evoke the social, cultural, even theological implications of these games we Americans play and so intensely watch. Every verse rings true, whether describing a jump shot, aging legs, or Ernie Harwell’s mellow voice on the radio. Readers of a certain age will find many poems like Proust’s madeleine, releasing a flood of memories. Keeping Score: Sports Poems for Every Season massages the imagination.
— David Vanderwerken, editor of Sport Inside Out: Readings in Literature and Philosophy and Sport in the Classroom: Teaching Sport-Related Course in the Humanities, author of Faulkner's Literary Children: Patterns of Development


Good times, good times! In his third book of poetry, Robert Hamblin invites both superstars and starry-eyed fans of sports to take the field together. Hamblin's wordplay wizardry recreates the exhilaration of a close-score game, the inimitable sound when ball hits bat, the joy of a young athlete crafting new moves, and the sweet agony of a not-so-young athlete obeying that weekend-warrior impulse. These poems celebrate the highlights and humanity, the mighty and the miscreants, the Clementes and the calamities of sports — our beloved global pastime — and remind us via Hamblin's enviable gift for language that sports not only speak to us but through us.
— Susan Swartwout, author of Freaks and Uncommon Ground, editor of Big Muddy



This book is available in Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple E-book formats, for purchase, and through public libraries' Overdrive account, for loan.

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