This week’s poem from American Life in Poetry is about how the poet’s granddaughter handles getting routed in a soccer game. The poem teaches us two valuable lessons. First, his granddaughter’s team really sucks. Second, the best way to handle your opponent’s gloating is to chant and laugh like a crazy person.

American Life in Poetry: Column 222

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Coleman Barks, who lives in Georgia, is not only the English language’s foremost translator of the poems of the 13th century poet, Rumi, but he’s also a loving grandfather, and for me that’s even more important. His poems about his granddaughter, Briny, are brim full of joy. Here’s one:

Glad

In the glory of the gloaming-green soccer
field her team, the Gladiators, is losing

ten to zip. She never loses interest in
the roughhouse one-on-one that comes

every half a minute. She sticks her leg
in danger and comes out the other side running.

Later a clump of opponents on the street is chant-
ing, WE WON, WE WON, WE . . . She stands up

on the convertible seat holding to the wind-
shield. WE LOST, WE LOST BIGTIME, TEN TO

NOTHING, WE LOST, WE LOST. Fist pumping
air. The other team quiet, abashed, chastened.

Good losers don’t laugh last; they laugh
continuously, all the way home so glad.