Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face
My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
A child’s race, young boys, young men … how I remember well
Excitement sure … but also fear … it was not hard to tell.
They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win the race.
Or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his own;
And each child hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.
The whistle blew, and off they went, young hearts and hopes afire.
To win … to be the hero … that was each young child’s desire.
And one child in particular whose dad was in the crowd,
Was running in the lead and thought my dad will be so proud.
But as he sped down the field across a shallow dip,
The child, who thought to win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his hands flew out in brace.
And mid the laughter of the crowd the child fell on his face.
So down he fell with lost hope; he couldn’t win not now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell his dad stood up, and showed his anxious face;
This to the child so clearly said; “Get up and win the race.”
He quickly rose … no damage done … behind a bit, that’s all.
And off he ran with all his might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up, and to win;
His mind went faster than his legs …he slipped and fell again.
He wished then that he had quit before, with only one disgrace.
I’m hopeless as a runner now I should not try to race.
But in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face.
That steady look that said again, “Get up and win the race.”
So up he jumped to try again, 10 yards behind the last.
If I’m going to gain those yards I’ve got to run real fast.
Exerting everything he had … regaining eight then ten.
But trying hard to catch the lead he slipped and fell again.
Defeat; he lay there silently … a tear dropped from his eye.
There is no sense in running anymore … three strikes, I’m out, why try?
The will to rise had disappeared all hope had fled away.
So far behind, so error prone I’ll never go all the way.
I’ve lost – so what’s the use he thought. I’ll live with my disgrace.
But then he thought about his dad who soon he would have to face.
“Get up” … an echo sounded low … “Get up and take your place …
You were not meant for failure here … get up and win the race.”
“Get up” it said, “you have not lost at all.
For winning is no more than this – to rise each time you fall.”
So up he rose to run once more refusing to forfeit.
He resolved, that win or lose the race, at least he would not quit.
So far behind the others now … the most he had ever been,
So he gave it all he had and ran as though to win.
Three times he had fallen, stumbling … three times he had rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win … but he still ran on to the end.
They cheered the winning runner as they crossed the line first place.
Head high ... proud and happy … no falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster crossed the line … last place
The crowd gave him the greatest cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last with head bowed low un-proud.
You would have thought that he had won the race to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad, he sadly said –“I did not do so well.”
“To me you won”, his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”
Now when things seem dark and difficult to face,
The memory of that child helps me in my race.
For all of life is like that race with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win – IS RISE EACH TIME YOU FALL.
And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face,
Another voice within me says, “Get up and win the race!”
The original poem has been attributed to Dr. D.H. “Dee” Groberg and has been slightly amended by
Dr Gordon F Gatiss 2004-2006