He was always the final selection
when the captains were choosing their teams,
the one left over when others were picked
still stood by the wall, all alone;
not seeming to care what decisions were made,
wrapped up in some thoughts of his own
as footballing wizards debated at length
positions and placements where physical strength
wouldn't need to be frequently shown.
His desk was the one at the back of the room;
he took most of the blame for the pranks,
was mocked by the others - laughed at and teased
for the sad, vacant look on his face
each time that the teacher put down his book
and asked him to point to the place -
or even the page - he'd been reading aloud.
And each time he failed the jeers of the crowd
would announce yet another disgrace.
He was the one who went missing one day -
disappeared on his way home from school;
"Abducted!" they muttered, searching the fields,
the playgrounds and hills round the town
but, failing to find any sign of him there,
offered a communal frown
for a while - out of childish respect -
then thought of him less in the need to elect
someone else as their picked-upon clown.
His was the body, finally found
in some woods, many miles from his home;
Not kidnapped, not murdered: 'He just ran away
for no reason,' they said, '..so it seems.'
Not knowing the pain of rejection he'd felt
or the tears that he'd shed in abandoning dreams,
nor heard the bitter tears constrict
the prayer: "Please, God... let me be picked!"
When the captains were choosing their teams.