Completely Subjective: Dick Allen’s “What You Have to Get Over”

I turn my head towards the scoreboard, thoughts of a long season loom in my head about what could’ve been.  We had one goal; to come out on top as champions, but the score said otherwise.  It seemed as though months of hard work, sweat, and blood were all for nothing.  My once burning passion seemed to vanish.  Laying flat on the field that day, I felt as if I had just woke up on an island by myself, lost and needing to be saved.  However, you can’t change the past.  It almost seemed surreal; We weren’t supposed to lose that game, but a last second touchdown by the opposing team had sealed the deal on the championship.  I remember looking over and seeing one of my teammates with tears dripping down his face.  It was at that moment that I realized what this game could do to you.  It can take you on a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs.  This ride though took me towards the biggest drop I’ve ever experienced.

My coach pulled me aside as I was walking off the field that day to let me know that I played my heart out.  He told me to not be so down on myself because we put up a good fight, but how can I get over this?  This moment brought me to a place I’ve never been before.  A place of disbelief, anger and heartbreak so course I was going to be hard on myself.  Nonetheless, my coach did leave me with some motivational words in the final part of his talk to me which gave me some motivation to help me get over my sorrow.

“Use this feeling to fuel your fire and come back next season hungry”

As appeared as the first poem in the 2010 edition of The Best American Poetry, Dick Allen’s “What You Have to Get Over”  was published in The Hudson Review, then reprinted by permission of the author to be put in the edition.  I was assigned this version of the novel and once I came across the poem, my mind brought me back to the game in which my team lost in devastating fashion.

In this poem, Allen uses a great sense of imagery to convey the reader’s thoughts throughout the poem.  It starts off by describing obstacles that people may be faced with in life which sets the mood on the poem.  He then goes on to inform the reader about how you have to get over these obstacles before it’s too late:  “you have to get over that tree line a hundred yards in the distance before evening falls.”  After seeing this line I was able to interpret it realize that Allen is telling the reader that there will be challenges ahead in your life, but you need to have the strength to get over them once they come at you.  I was able to connect this line to my own experience.  I had to realize that I was going to be faced with adversity at some point in my football career but what I didn’t know how to do was get over it.

The word “resentment” is used in the following 2 stanza when saying that “You have to get over your resentments.”  When I came across that word I wasn’t too sure what it meant but figured it had to deal with an obstacle one faces in life.  I’ve learned that it mean to get over your bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.  I felt this line perfectly summed up my experience that day on the football field.  I was in one of the worst places of my life and felt as if i was trapped in a box.  Yet I couldn’t just sit back and let that moment haunt me for years to come.  It was necessary that I overcame it even though I felt as if I was treated unfairly.  Too young to realize this then, but that’s life.  You’re going to get curve balls through at you in life.  Even though these curve balls might hurt you or catch you swinging, what matters is how you bounce back from them.

Allen’s message that he is trying to deliver to his readers is simple but makes you think about how you’ve dealt with obstacles and issues.  His message is that you must get over the struggles you have in your life, to not hold them off (waiting for time to heal them), and get over the rides drop now.  The poem may make you question yourself; Have I been dealing with my thoughts and feelings wrong all along?  But Allen’s poem is used to help guide you through these thoughts and hopefully make you realize what you should do.  This poem provided an important message that all readers should take away and apply to their everyday lives.  The connection that I was able to make to this poem brought me back to a negative time in my life, yet I smile and realize that was only one tiny drop on my roller coaster ride with bigger ones yet to come and I have to have the strength to get over them.

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