The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

A Small Town Sport

In this piece of work Mr. Runyon presents a good specimen of a large class, a young fellow who was going the trifling way to the Everlasting Bonfire when the war caught him up and made a man of him, Thousands of such cases, before the war little better than waste human material, went out to fight, and found themselves, and made good, and came home sobered, serious men, worthy to stand among those to whom the nation's destinies were confided.

SON o' ol' Miz McAuliffe, the widder o' Box-Car Jack,

An' ol' time shack on the Santa Fe, who run to Dodge and back.

He was killed in a wreck at La Junta, and he left the wife and boy--

A kid knee--high to a hop--toad, and tagged by the name o' Roy.

This Roy was sort o' onery, and he never would go to school.

He spent the most o' childhood days in learnin' the game o' pool.

His shoulders grew somewhat rounded, and his chest it grew rather thin--

But, gosh, he grew to a marvel at knockin' them pool balls in!

Pool-shootin' Roy, we called him, and many a night I've set

Watchin' him clean the table, and puffin' his cigaret.

Sleeves rolled up to the elbow, and plavin' so ca'm and cool

If ever a lad was born for a thing, he was born for playin' this pool!

Fifteen balls was a cinch for him--fifteen balls from the break;

One ball loose from the bunch a bit, and the whole darned rack he'd take.

He was great on a combination, and great on a cut-shot, too--

He'd make those pool balls talk to him when he started handlin' a cue!

And some of us thought he'd be champeen, but every one didn't agree,

For Doctor Wilcox wanted to bet he'd die of the old T. B.

But the war it settled the question, for the first of our kids to go

Was Pool-Shootin' Roy McAuliffe--our poolrooms suffered a blow.

What is that thing the Frenchmen give to a good game fightin' boy?

Say it again--the Croix de Guerre? Well, that's what they give to Roy.

It seems fifteen Germans were on him, and handlin' him rather mean,

When he got a machine gun to workin' and pocketed the whole fifteen!

Notes

In this piece of work Mr. Runyon presents a good specimen of a large class, a young fellow who was going the trifling way to the Everlasting Bonfire when the war caught him up and made a man of him, Thousands of such cases, before the war little better than waste human material, went out to fight, and found themselves, and made good, and came home sobered, serious men, worthy to stand among those to whom the nation's destinies were confided.