Sports Poems from Hoosier Poets
after portrait of Johnny Unitas by Joe Sheppard
at the National Art Museum of Sport
Unitas, Unite Us, Unitas, Unite us,
hear the crowd, their pleading chant
cutting through the cold, see their breath.
But look, this is only a bent and tired man
draping his wrist on a helmet. He is no colt,
no hero, no legend, holding himself
barely erect on the edge of a field of battle.
This is a man watching a game of men,
stooped like you with your head
bare, your dreams linked to what happens
between these muddy lines.
This is you, united to him, your own
shadow and light, your own bones
and whispers standing on the sidelines,
now hunched over staring
into this painting, this poem, this game,
this man hoping he might bring you
some relief, might make you whole.