Ex-Basketball Player by John Updike
Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,
Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off
Before it has a chance to go two blocks,
At Colonel McComsky Plaza.
Berth’s Garage Is on the corner facing west, and there,
Most days, you'll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out.
Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps—
Five on a side, the old bubble-head style,
Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.
One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes An E and O.
And one is squat, without
A head at all—more of a football type.
Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards.
He was good: in fact, the best. In ’46
He bucketed three hundred ninety points,
A county record still. The ball loved Flick.
I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.
He never learned a trade, he just sells gas,
Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while,
As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube,
But most of us remember anyway.
His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench.
It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though.
Off work, he hangs around Mae’s Luncheonette.
Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball,
Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates.
Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods
Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers
Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads.
Title1- This poem is about a basketball player who retired from a team. - A poem about a basketball player who's glory has faded
Paraphrase - This is a poem about an ex-basketball player who was the best in the town. In third stanza it talks about how he was such a good basketball player in high school. However, the two stanzas at the beginning and the two stanzas at the end have dry voice to tell the basketball player after he retired. After he had ended his basektball career, he worked in a gas station. Out of work, he smoked, drank, and played pinball. It seems like he does not have the glory he had when he played basketball.
Tone – Dry
Point of view – 3rd person
the idiot pumps - personification
One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes An E and O. - Allegory
trolley tracks: Alliteration
The ball loved Flick: personification
His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench. It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though. – personification
Checks oil, and changes flats - alliteration
His hands were like wild birds : Similes
As a gag – similes
loose and low : Alliteration
Attitude – It is dry but it sounds little depressing. It keeps talk about the past when he was good and it contrasts now and back then.
Shifts – Shifts happen a lot in this poem. First two stanzas talk about what Flick is doing now. The third stanza shifts and talks about how good Flick was. Again, fourth and fifth stanza shift and talk about what a depressing he has now.
Title – It is a poem about a basketball player who was the top of the country basketball but now he is just an ordinary guy who works in a gas station.
Theme – I think the theme of this poem is to tell us to be the top of something you are good at. If you are not good enough, then your life will end up like Flick who did not find a place in this world. However, if you become a top, then you will find a place such as playing basketball in professional basketball team.