My Poem ‘Behind the baseline’

Behind the baseline,
standing diagonally,
opposite each other,
almost at the edge of the court,
two racket rocket tennis players
face-off against each other –
one waiting to serve hard and fast,
the other waiting with anticipation
with their body flooded with adrenaline,
as they try to psyche themselves up
and read the body-language of the other player,
hoping to get a touch and a contact
with the fast moving almost-invisible tennis ball
and return it over to the other side of the net
before it can be counted as an “ace”
as it flies past.

The striped green grass of the court glows;
the white lines of the boundaries are pure white;
the audience in attendance are silent and are hypnotized;
the first and the only sound that can be heard
is the moment when the player who is serving
tosses the tennis ball that they are holding in the air
and they hit it hard, far, through, high to low.

Within a split-second,
after that first hit,
the two athletes spring into action
and run to meet their competitors return;
the two players’ hearts race,
their finally-tuned instincts are heightened,
their skin burns under the hot sun,
they think, they swing their rackets,
they run and they run and they run…
all they are thinking about
is reaching the glowing ball of energy
and using the strings of the racket-head
to keep the ball of their game “in” and not “out!”

Tennis is a sport of strategy, skill,
athleticism, rivalry, thought, and preparation;
tennis players are held in high-regard,
and they are renowned and they are championed
as being as close to the perfect sportsperson
as anyone could be;
tennis has the magic about it
to capture you and strike you
with complete fascination
and inflame your imagination,
and it can even galvanize the people of an entire nation;
tennis players walk in the same circles
and they brush shoulders with rock-stars,
and they are considered heroes in their own right
because of their unbelievable natural ability.

As the rally of a set goes on,
as the crowd watching in the stands
become more and more captivated,
as the flight of the tennis ball
and what side of the court it is on
continues to be the sole focus
of everyone’s attention,
even those who are just watching
and who are not playing
are living for every bounce, hit, return, and point.

Bounce after bounce,
serve after serve,
as the scores are announced from the umpire,
everybody tries to keep cool,
keep hydrated, keep their nerve.
When the match is done and won,
and the victorious player
raises their racket high into the air,
the relief that is felt all around
by everybody who is there is palpable
and it is enough to bring both players to tears;
and when the champion of the game
takes their victory lap
and enjoys and takes in the crowds adulation
and rapturous cheers,
it is then that people remember where they are
and the minutes and the hours of the time;
and as everyone in the stands and on the court
collects their things and leaves
to return to the outside world,
everybody is still in awe,
and they can still remember every second
and every shot that they saw,
as they watched a remarkable game of tennis take place
from just behind the baseline.

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