His Proudest Moment

He is unlucky in being mentally handicapped,
but fortunate in living with love and understanding,
so freely given by family and community, capped
by the enlightened approach of his attending

the regular public schooling beside his lifelong friends.
His happy smile, his cheerful nature has endeared him
to all. By classmates he is fully accepted. But then,
in high school, he wants to play football beside them.

The coach agrees to letting him dress out in uniform,
even practice with the team. For four seasons he dresses
for games, leading the team onto the field. He conforms
to team rules. He’s on the team, but never plays like the rest.

How he begs to get into a game! However, that is not
possible - injury could result. For four years he waits;
he waits for an impossibility. For the last game he got
to lead graduating seniors onto the field. He anticipates

his spending his final game as usual, watching and waiting,
ending with his being disappointed one last time. The
cross-town team late in the game has it 28 - 0, presenting
a chance. After both teams confer and agree, hurriedly

they send him in, with the ball at midfield, ten seconds left.
The ball is snapped, handed off to him. He runs to the line…
and stops. “Run! Run!” He sets off through the line. Deft
he’s not, but he makes it through the opposing line just fine.

Ten thousand people are on their feet cheering him on!
He picks up speed pass the linebackers, makes it through
the secondary - now running free, heading for the endzone.
10 yards, 20, 30, now 40… he scores! Forever more, who

shall ever forget ten thousand people cheering…and tearing…
because two teams conspired to get him in the endzone dancing.

Harry Edward Gilleland      11.15.02