Casey on the Mat
By Chuck Malooley
With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer, another great poet
Things weren’t looking pretty for Purdue’s Judo team that day;
The score was two to nothing with but three matches left to play.
Yes, when Dave was pinned in the first match and Chuck was choked in the next,
The home fans all grew silent as they knew they had been hexed.
Few fans remained locked in their seats, the outcome yet to see
As hope remained with the very few who understood the “ki”.
“Sun Tzu taught us,” Sensei said, “How we can win at that.”
Knowing what would happen soon when Casey got on the mat.
But Tark preceded Casey, and likewise so did Jim;
These two were always losing hands; the future looked more grim.
And upon these two the multitudes would place the losing bet;
The meet would all be over before Casey could get on the mat.
But Tark just won by armlock, to thrill the home crowd clan
And Jim, the much despised, he tore the stuffing from his man.
And when the mat was cleared they saw the home team still alive;
The score was tied at two-to-two in time for match number five!
From the few remaining throats arose a long and lusty cheer;
It filled the Wabash Valley, and it shattered every ear.
The bookies ran for cover from the turn-‘round of events
When they saw Casey, mighty Casey, as he got up from the bench.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped up to his mark
And pride in Casey’s attitude as the light shown through the dark.
And when, responding to the cheers, he bowed to their delight
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey up to fight.
The eyes of all were on him as he tightened up his belt.
And all the fans applauded when his confidence was felt.
And while the other fighter shook and trembled every way,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye; the ref called, “Hajime.”
The gi-clad visitor launched his attack, more desperate than skilled,
A strong man would’ve been knocked down; a lesser might’ve been killed.
But Casey, in a toying mood, just sat down for a laugh.
“I like this chump”, ol’ Casey said; “Koka”, called the ref.
From the bleachers, black with people, there went up a muffled roar.
Like the beating of the storm waves on a far and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the referee!” yelled someone from the stands.
And it’s likely that they would have had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of grandeur on his face, his magnanimity shone.
With a calming motion from his hand, he bade the match go on.
Another “Hajime”, another attack, this time from the right and the left.
“Maybe it’s your birthday”, Casey laughed, sitting down. “Another koka” , called the ref.
“No way”, the maddened crowd called out, and echo yelled the same
With a scornful look from Casey’s eyes, the fans were quickly tamed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, it belched a fiery roar,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t allow this man another score.
The sneer has fled from Casey’s lip, the cards have now been dealt.
He tucks, with cruel violence, his gi into his belt.
And now the ref calls, “Hajime”, and now the warriors go,
And now the mat is shattered by the landing of a throw.
Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,
But there is no joy for the Boilers’ team —- mighty Casey got knocked out!