Yes sir Coach,
Yes sir Coach,
Yes sir Coach,
Yes sir Coach,

I throws the ball coach
I runs the ball coach
I catches the ball coach
I knows the ball coach
I holds the ball coach
I controls the ball coach

But you, you, you… owns the ball coach?

And this here field and them there stands,
and that there JumboTron, And them there fans, And oh Lord my fans, you ain’t got to ask!
Just last week I signed a grown man’s forehead and the palms… of his newborn’s hands

Oh boy they love me,
on my grandmomma’s grave they surely do,
You know a bullet be the only thang
keepin this game from me and you.

God got to be a gifted artist
the ways I been picked and prodded.
Since sixteen I been lean whole hood knew
I’d get the farthest… away from our fathers
away from slaughters… away from coffins,
Can you believe, USC wanted me?
They only pick the hardest. Three year starter.
2 All-Americans, Banker’s daughter.

This got to be a dream. See, see where I’m from you either Hustle, get high, get hit,
or hurdle defenders. But you take children
with trauma and tempers,
from august december.
Blow a whistle let them loose
tear limbs from the tendons.
Only the strong survive there you
betta remember


So me without a ball
is Clark Kent without a cape,
I knock a couple helmets off
they depositing my papes.
But wait… What you say?
44 shots? Three of em to the face?

Now wait…

Did he hold on to the steering wheel
was a smile up on his face!?
Did he say yes officer no officer
please check my registration
and my plates!?

Oh naw…

you know how we be bucking the law
too much damn attitude
get them weapons involved
So you saying he was unarmed?
And fit a description
wasn’t no shakin it off?

They were looking for a
6’4” black male
245 lbs to be exact
And you sayin he was
reaching for his license
and got rounds up in his back?

Loud sounds
and then collapsed?

Well look here we got to do something
I means something gotta shake!
That could be me arms folded
cousins gettin consoled and
everybody huddled at my wake…

But my job is just to play!?

My foundation gave out
10,000 turkeys in the hood last year
What’s more for me to say?
I don’t wanna get cornered in debate.
We ain’t supposed to mixing
this blessed game here with politics.
Plus there’s mortgage in the way,
it’s how I afforded the estate
But could I be mortgaging my play?
Could my legs be the leverage
that makes owners more
cordial with the tape?

And is a mouth wide shut,
and blind eyes open help
absorbing all the hate.
This game is all I’ve had for my escape!
and I escaped..
But I assure you they love me!
surely they’ll understand today
So when I take this knee
as that anthem starts to play.
You think they could look at me
with this passion in my face
And truly be able to say,
this is the land of the free
and home of the brave?

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Tariq Touré is a native Baltimorean, Muslim essayist, poet, educator, humanitarian and public speaker. Since the age of 19, Touré has mentored at-risk African-American Males in Baltimore and Washington D.C. Find his work at tariqtouré.com and in his 2016 collection of poetry “Black Seeds.”

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