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A Christmas Reflection – The Coach

December 24, 2021

The Coach

Written by Clay Smith


Like an evil fraternity, each in sequence: alpha, beta, delta, omicron,
Leaving sadness and sickness with each letter.
We’re all masked like bandits, on the off chance our breath could unwittingly steal life from a vulnerable passerby.
First do no harm – is it possible I could harm you with the breath that is to me life?
I’d never want to hurt you.  But I miss your face.
When will I see your face, your full face?  When will you see mine?
When can we breathe without fear?  When can our children run free?  When can the old man hold his granddaughter and kiss her soft cheeks?


I won’t forget your face.  No surgical mask; it’s an oxygen mask, full blast.
It isn’t fear.  It’s concern mixed with resolve.
Your face is deep brown, with lines that point to the sun.
You’re strong, a coach, teaching young men to play hard, to play fair.
How unfair this…
It may have been concentration, just trying to get enough breath.
You’re tired and tiring more.  But you’re strangely lucid, strangely calm.
No one at your age could keep this up for long.
We talk around the tight mask now barely supporting each sip of air.
I tell you we’ll make you sleep, and you’ll wake again in the tower above us (hopefully…I whisper under my breath).
We prepare to breathe for you.  My heart races.
One mistake and your once strong body will be starved of breath, ashen.
Drugs flow in.  Your breath stops…
Oh the relief!  The tube passes with ease!

I cry a little, hidden behind my mask.

You’re safe, at least for now, as the machine takes over the fight.


I feel tired as I peel off my mask and walk to my car in the cold blackness, feeling the wind on my face.
Is that Your breath, icy, stinging my flushed cheeks?
Giver of breath, save us!  It’s your Name.
How long?  Please, no more letters. What if we reach Omega?

Will You still be with us?

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year. May you have peace and joy. May God bless you and keep you.


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