Almanac Poetry: The Day I Broke Billy



Finish Line, Landy Field, Geelong, 2017. The venue where KD did Little Athletics more than forty years ago. [source: Wikimedia Commons]



The Day I Broke Billy


The day I broke Billy,
the stadium (well, athletics track)
was cool, windless.
The 800 metres final.
Young William was my rival.
Nerves, muscles and tendons attenuated,
we gathered at the starting line.
The gun cracked
– I led. Felt good.
The tartan flew beneath my feet.
Bill tracked my every step. I could
sense his determination.
His father had perched himself on the fence
at the end of lap one,
where Bill had planned
to make a drawn-out finishing kick.
(I knew his tactics of old.)
A bloke in a long grey coat rang the bell.
Bill’s dad let out a rousing yell,
“C’mon, Billy!”
I still felt strong, upped the pace,
while Bill let out a guttural cry
“I c-c-c-can’t!”
in response to his father’s call.
That was all I needed.
I sped, unchallenged, to the finish line,
then turned and watched those in my wake.
Bill lolloped like a busted tyre
into second place,
on that special day in the Under Elevens
when I shattered him like a meringue.



(Acknowledgement: poem appears in my newest collection, Sacredly Profane, Ginninderra Press, 2020.)


To purchase a copy of Sacredly Profane click HERE



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Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, was published in late 2020 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. will purcell says

    nice kev
    “lolloping like a busted tyre”….that was my specialty.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Will!

    Back then, I was fleet-of-foot. Now, I’d lollop, too!

  3. Bill Wootton says

    I didn’t see that meringue coming.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Kids feel highly competitive on such occasions, of course, Bill!

  5. A nice reminiscence KD.
    I presume that was the highlight of your athletics career?

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Pleased you liked the poem, Smokie.

    And yes, it was the highlight – the Geelong Little Athletics Under 11 800 metres final, 1973/4 – I still have the gold medal (and podium photo, believe it or not) somewhere!

  7. Took me back to many a school athletics carnival. Though sadly, I relate more to Billy: I used to run second in every single race – there was one guy I could never beat – I still have a box of all my second-place ribbons.

    The meringue line is a killer. I look forward to checking out your book when I get a chance.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks DB. I had a fair number of seconds, too, but this was my moment of glory!

    And I hope you like the book when you get a chance to read it. Cheers!

  9. Roger lowrey says

    A great read and great Geelong memories too Kevin. I was once a Little Athletics official starter when our son was in the Manifold little aths club. Other Manifold parents were mightly impressed as my duties meant commensurately fewer dutues for the rest of them. RDL

  10. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, RDL. Thanks for the comments.

    I ran for St Joseph’s College. Funny, looking back, how serious some of us kids took the whole thing.

    And the starter was a pretty important guy, too!

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