The first eight lines of the poem have an ABCB rhyme scheme, whereby the second and fourth lines rhyme. For example, in the opening four lines, the second line ends in the word "adolescence," and the fourth line ends in the word "presence." In the next four lines, the second of those four lines ends in the word "healthy," and the last of those four lines ends in the word "stealthy."
From the ninth line onwards, the rhyme scheme changes to ABAC, whereby the first and third lines of each four-line section rhyme. For example, line nine ends in the word "bears," and line eleven ends in the word "dare." This ABAC rhyme scheme continues for the rest of the poem, although the last line of the poem is the second 'a' of the abac pattern.
The line lengths in the poem vary widely. The shortest lines ("deadset in adolescence," for example) comprise of seven syllables, and the longest line ("You will note he's got some of his French mother's looks") comprises of twelve syllables. This irregular syllabic meter, or line length, lends a spontaneous, conversational tone to the poem. This conversational tone is also emphasized by the frequent enjambment in the poem, whereby a sentence runs across two or more lines.
There are several other structural features to the poem worth noting. The poem begins with expository detail, meaning that we are introduced to who the poem is about ("This boy") and where and when it is set ("high-school land" and "adolescence" respectively). In the middle of the poem, the speaker describes, or at least implies, the boy's emotional and psychological state. We are told that "he never refuses a dare" and that "He wants to be different from everyone else."
Finally, at the end of the poem we are left with something of a cliffhanger in the form of a rhetorical question. The speaker asks, referring to the boy, "will he learn to grow up before it's too late?" This is a somewhat ominous, provocative ending to the poem.