That Red Ball

Something so simple, so unimpressive, so Nothing washed a sea of memories over me today.  I was walking with Luke.  Our daily walk from Hannah’s bus stop back home.  We often meander to the end of a long, tree lined access road near our house to visit a lonely, empty, yellow digger truck often parked there.  As we walked today, with Luke holding onto my pointer finger feeling too proud to hold my entire hand, a splash of red in my peripheral vision caught my eye.  I turned and spotted one of those textured red rubber balls that we all became familiar with at some point in our lives.  It had rolled under a bush and left abandoned there.  I stuck my foot under the bush and pulled the ball out from its cover.

It was wet and dirty from the rain it had endured last night and this morning.  But it still brought a smile to my face.  I kicked it over to Luke. Who let it bounce it off his calves and then dribbled it toward the truck, losing interest in it as the truck overtook his attention.

I picked the ball up in my hands. The feel of it reminded me of the dozens (hundreds?) of days spent in the school gyms playing dodge ball with these balls.  Whipping them at the opposing team trying to knock them out of play.  Catching them as they were hurled at me, proud to be one of the girls who could actually catch.

I bounced the ball on the cement.  The ease and height of the rebound brought me to my little girl days on the playground lifting my leg in a circle over the ball as it bounced reciting, “A my name is Alice and my boyfriend’s name is Al.  I come from Arizona and I like to sell Apples!  B my name is Betty…” and on and on through the alphabet.

I even was overwhelmed with the familiarity of the SOUND of the bounce.  Free time at sleep away camp playing Four Square (the ORIGINAL four square, with the 4 squares and a ball.  Not the ridiculous “Everyone must care where I am at all moments in my day” social networking site) with my bunk mates.  Hours in those squares with that ball.  Laughter. Easy fun. Winning.  Losing. Exhaustion.

I rolled the ball towards Luke. Hoping he’d get excited to play some more.  As it left my hand on the ground, I was brought back to elementary school. Kickball. Hoping to get picked for a team earlier rather than later. Excitement to be the one up to “bat”. Nerves shaking as the ball rolled toward me. Hoping to kick it into the outfield. Over Timmy Lambert’s head to impress him with my mad skills.

That red ball. Not made for any sport in particular.  Designed for all of them. Created for fun.  To throw, catch, kick, bounce, hurl, jump over and roll.  I left that red ball where I found it.  Hoping that whoever lost it, would make as many memories with it as I did. Hoping it wasn’t ditched for a Gameboy, Wii or cellphone but instead forgotten about as they were called in for dinner.  Hoping it would be retrieved with relief that it was still there.

I need to get me one of those red balls.



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16 responses to “That Red Ball

  1. Wow. The memories. A single red ball and the hours of fun on the playground and at home.

    I hope your Luke and my kids will have those memories as well.

  2. This post brings me back. Some good memories, some awkward (I was never athletic as a kid, dodge ball always scared me). Ahhhhh, memories.

  3. This ball and how you describe it takes me back. I always disliked kickball when I was young – always afraid the ball would hit me square in the face and my nose would break.

  4. I’d forgotten about those red balls? Why don’t we use them anymore? I loved the “thunk” they made when you kicked them.

  5. I can hear the sound of the bounce on asphalt in my head right now…that sproingy, warbly, almost tinny/metallic sound, on top of the rubber splat as it hits the ground…

    I love playground balls. They come in many colors these days. I keep meaning to get some for our house, I know that even if my kids didn’t like them, that my wife and I would have a blast with them.

    Thanks for the memory and reminder to get some!

  6. Man. Four square was my favorite schoolyard game. We often played it in the parking spaces of the neighborhood where I grew up, and my son has learned to play it with skill.

    Great memories!

  7. I feared that red ball, as I was not athletically inclined. But there was something comforting about that thunk as you bounced it to a friend, kicked it away when playing kickball, held it for the first time as a teacher…Thank you for bringing all those beautiful images back!

  8. Oh I loved that ball. I remember being one of the smallest kids and always being able to avoid its onslaught. I used to LOVE playing four square too!!!

    Just reading your post I feel like I can hear (and smell) that awesome red rubbery bit of joy….so fun!!!

  9. Awesome post! I love the sounds too. If you are interested in playing kickball with adults, check out the World Adult Kickball Association. It’s just like you remember it (but with beer!)

  10. Incredible. You no sooner started to talk about the playground and that recitation and the sound of the bounce – and I was right there.


  11. Funny, because we also found an abandoned red ball this week. My son was so excited about it!

  12. You know….I believe I’ve got to go buy a red ball. 🙂

  13. ck

    The red balls! I loved them. Or at least, I remember loving them. I was never athletic, so maybe I’ve made that up over time.

    But I did always love me a game of Steal the Bacon.

  14. Oh… those red balls scare me.. remind me of school days… and dodgeball – the worst sport EVER!

  15. Analytical Eye

    I dominated four-square in elementary. Thank you for this reminder, it makes me want to go buy one of those balls and some chalk to do it all over again. Actually, let me put that on my to do list right now!

    Did you ever play Doctor Dodge Ball?

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