What is the poem "Ex-Basketball Player" by John Updike trying to say?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Almost every school has a sports hero, someone who is  natural at the game. Like the glittering stars whose brilliance fades overnight, some of these bright heroes seem to dim after graduation. Flick is such a person. Note how the first three lines act as a symbol of his life:

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.

In the same way, Flick's life has been "cut off" before it has had a chance to go further than High School. Although he was "the best" and "The ball loved Flick," his life now is wasted working in a gas station, because "He never learned a trade." Although his hands "are fine and nervous" this clearly makes no difference whatsoever to his undemanding and demeaning job now. Updike is thus making a sad point about so many students who seem to have such promise but whose future life harshly belies the dreams they may have once had.

We’ve answered 317,420 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question