Foul Shot

Foul Shot

A Poem by Richard Layne

Foul Shot

I throw a hook shot         

Over my father’s outstretched arm.  He pushes hard against me,

The basketball bouncing off the front of the rim, rolling to a stop across the cold, muddy court.

His black handprint on my back.

“You can’t do that,” I say to myself at first, like I’m practicing, then out loud, a rare harshness to

My voice.

“You can’t do that!”

My father walks over to the blackened ball and tries to wipe the mud off on the wet grass.

He doesn’t look at me.

“It’s a foul.” More to myself this time.  Remind myself that there are rules to follow, there

Are things you shouldn’t be allowed to do.

My father shakes his head in quick little jerks like punches

 and gives me that look that makes me"no matter what I’m doing"shut up and listen.

Pat attention to his every detail.

Watch the curl of his mouth as he speaks, “Don’t be a cry baby.  You got to learn to take s**t

 like that son and deal with it.”

It starts to sprinkle again, freezing drops that let you know winter is coming; time

that has to be spent indoors.

He dribbles the ball in one spot, his breath vaporizing out his nose like a charging bull, then

Runs up and slams the ball in. 

He slides on the slick grass a few feet and falls on his a*s.

I smile despite myself but don’t laugh out loud as his fists tense up.

He heads for the fogged back door and the heat of the house.  “Come inside!  Somebody’s

Gonna get hurt out here!”

I catch the smell of turkey cooking.


It’s Thanksgiving.


I think of smiles over pie and toasts and full plates of turkey breast with dressing and gravy;

And my father carving the turkey and people patting him on the back and being


It’s quiet outside now and I realize I’m breathing heavy.

Go and collect the ball from the mud.

I hear a car pull up in front of the house; uncles and aunts who know the truth and choose to ignore it.

A raised tree root marks the foul line,

the ground in front of it beaten down into a grassless patch.


The rules are simple.

If somebody breaks them, you get a foul shot.

I glance at the door, my father rapping on the glass with his hard, red knuckles.

I stand at the foul line, rolling the blackened ball around in my hands.

The mud tightening to me like a second skin.

© 2011 Richard Layne

Author's Note

Richard Layne
This is not autobiographical except for the muddy basketball court. Please give me some tips to make it better.

My Review

Would you like to review this Poem?
Login | Register


really good....
ahena :) enjoyed it

Posted 3 Years Ago

I enjoyed it love and think you did well, you keep consistency and make the reader intrigued to keep reading :) xoxo

Posted 5 Years Ago

much enjoyed.

Posted 5 Years Ago

I'm not really a fan of basketball, but I still enjoyed reading this. You made it captivating for the reader regardless of the sport taking place because there's so much more to the story. It reminds me when I used to practice shooting hoops outside with my dad. Although he seemed a lot more friendly than the father mentioned here. Hahah but anyway, I like this a lot. A poem that tells a vivd story along the way :)

Posted 5 Years Ago

no change needed!! you tell a very poetic story... that was a great read indeed!!

Posted 5 Years Ago

Wow i am impressed vy this piece, i like it the way it is.
so much imagery and detail in this, i could see it happen.
awesome writing skills here.

Posted 5 Years Ago

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


7 Reviews
Added on December 23, 2011
Last Updated on December 26, 2011


Richard Layne
Richard Layne


I got married, had 2 awesome kids, joined a big corporation, and stopped writing. 15 years later, I want that piece of me back. more..

Kayak Kayak

A Poem by Richard Layne