A Poem: on ups, on downs, on nights I'll never forget from along the way

Jared Odenbeck, Lindome GIF defender

On a mid-October night, lights flicker.

Warm breath slowly rises into the air,

As the sound of a ball striking concrete wall

Echoes throughout the empty parking garage. 

Night after night, you can find me there,

Working, chasing, and pursuing a dream. 


On a July night, the air thick and heavy,

Feet pound on a track just shy of midnight

As an empty stadium looks on in silence. 

Sweat cascades down my face as I lay on the turf,

Thinking about getting my body right

For the challenges of the following day. 


On a morning in August, first light rises,

And with it – hope and anticipation.

The freshly mown grass is wet with dew, 

Just as I saw in my dreams of old.

I trained for years in preparation,

But I am just now beginning my journey. 


On a bitter cold December D.C. night,

I trudged up the hill, ball under my arm,

Walking towards the light. I lace my boots

For the third time today, empty of joy. 

Unaware of this physical and mental harm,

I look to the black, empty sky and yell in frustration.


Finding myself in a new place, I set out

To find my release from each lonely day.

The fourth floor basketball court served me well. 

Always empty in the depths of the night

And teaching me to look every way

Before I decide where the ball needs to go.


Towering palms and the dry L.A. air 

Were home for a summer of losing.

The football was bad, the pitches were worse.

More feet pounding on tracks in silent stadiums.

I looked at my body of work, musing

In my dingy wood-paneled room, “Will I ever be a pro?”


On a warm night in September – success! 

The first college goal and many starts in a row.

Without a need to hear the bang of the ball,

The refining of my past seasons spoke,

Reminding me that you reap what you sow,

As I rested, at peace and full of joy.


A bone-chilling night in November

And a ball on a white dot 12 yards away

From glory and triumph and achievement. 

The ball rattled the bar as groans filled the air.

Collapsing to the ground, I just wanted to stay,

Just like the nights of old, thinking about the next day.


The change of seasons brought another change.

Now I could make sure this was my place.

A new challenge, maybe a fresh start.

The chill of the January morning air,

The harsh sting of the wind on my face,

Failure after failure, grind after grind.


The spring wore on, frustration wore deeper.

No wins, no joy, and lots of distraction.

Trying to fill the emptiness but compounding 

Upon it and hurting more every day,

And feeling like taking action

Was becoming pointless, an empty endeavor.


The warm and thick Charlotte summer brought

Together some new friends and some old.  

Back to the pounding on that empty stadium’s familiar track.

Growing and learning things, some pleasant some hard.

A favorite season in this story told, 

Ready for the excitement another fall.


The long-awaited August morning came -

Hopes and dreams for a season and career. 

Longing for opportunity but finding rejection,

I now knew where to look, and still found peace. 

In the midst of disappointment, it was still clear

That opportunity will one day find me.


On October nights I dreamt about all my life,

Lights shining, fans screaming, pitch perfectly mown, 

I learned to serve and give of myself

From the foreign and other side of the lines.

Trusting in true promises, knowing I own

Nothing that can control this Destiny. 


On a mid-November night, warm breath rises.

A chill is in the dark air. The ball zips 

About in the white Spry Stadium light. 

Embarking on a new yet old journey - 

Still striving, still riding the highs and the dips, 

The sound of the ball echoes in empty stands.