Poem: The Race by D.H. (Dee) Groberg

boy running in raceI like the poem “The Race” by D. H. Groberg because it is so very applicable to all aspects of life, including mission preparation and mission life. We all fall down in the race of life: we make mistakes, and we fall into sin and error. But we all have a Father in Heaven cheering us on, encouraging us, and helping us to get up each time we fall. The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to get up each time we fall, and as we do so God and the angles of heaven rejoice when we cross that finish line.

The poem “The Race” is posted here by permission of the author.


By Dr. D.H. (Dee) Groberg


“Quit! Give Up! You’re beaten!”
They shout at me and plead.
“There’s just too much against you now.
This time you can’t succeed.”

And as I start to hang my head
In front of failure’s face,
My downward fall is broken by
The memory of a race.

And hope refills my weakened will
As I recall that scene;
For just the thought of that short race
Rejuvenates my being.


A children’s race–young boys, young men–
How I remember well.
Excitement, sure! But also fear;
It wasn’t hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope
Each thought to win that race.
Or tie for first, or if not that,
At least take second place.

And fathers watched from off the side
Each cheering for his son.
And each boy hoped to show his dad
That he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went
Young hearts and hopes afire.
To win and be the hero there
Was each young boy’s desire.

And one boy in particular
Whose dad was in the crowd
Was running near the lead and thought:
“My dad will be so proud!”

But as they speeded down the field
Across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win
Lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself
His hands flew out to brace,
And mid the laughter of the crowd
He fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope
–He couldn’t win it now–
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished
To disappear somehow.

But as he fell his dad stood up
And showed his anxious face,
Which to the boy so clearly said,
“Get up and win the race.”

He quickly rose, no damage done,
–Behind a bit, that’s all–
And ran with all his mind and might
To make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself
–To catch up and to win–
His mind went faster than his legs:
He slipped and fell again!

He wished then he had quit before
With only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now;
I shouldn’t try to race.”

But in the laughing crowd he searched
And found his father’s face;
That steady look which said again:
“Get up and win the race!”

So up he jumped to try again
–Ten yards behind the last–
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought,
“I’ve got to move real fast.”

Exerting everything he had
He regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead
He slipped and fell again!

Defeat! He lied there silently
–A tear dropped from his eye–
“There’s no sense running anymore;
Three strikes: I’m out! Why try!”

The will to rise had disappeared;
All hope had fled away;
So far behind, so error prone;
A loser all the way.

“I’ve lost, so what’s the use,” he thought
“I’ll live with my disgrace.”
But then he thought about his dad
Who soon he’d have to face.

“Get up,” an echo sounded low.
“Get up and take your place;
You were not meant for failure here.
Get up and win the race.”

“With borrowed will get up,” it said,
“You haven’t lost at all.
For winning is no more than this:
To rise each time you fall.”

So up he rose to run once more,
And with a new commit
He resolved that win or lose
At least he wouldn’t quit.

So far behind the others now,
–The most he’d ever been–
Still he gave it all he had
And ran as though to win.

Three times he’d fallen, stumbling;
Three times he rose again;
Too far behind to hope to win
He still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner
As he crossed the line first place.
Head high, and proud, and happy;
No falling, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster
Crossed the line last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer,
For finishing the race.

And even though he came in last
With head bowed low, unproud,
You would have thought he’d won the race
To listen to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said,
“I didn’t do too well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said.
“You rose each time you fell.”


And now when things seem dark and hard
And difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy
Helps me in my race.

For all of life is like that race,
With ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win,
Is rise each time you fall.

“Quit! Give up! You’re beaten!”
They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says:

17 replies
  1. Nive
    Nive says:

    I love this poem it is really up lifting.
    During my trials and tribulations in life I continue reading this piece and every time I read it I have the strength to geet back up and win the race. It doesnt matter if you come first or second, the whole purpose of the race is to rise every time you fall and finishing the race with all your might.

    MIKE LUKE says:

    my name is mike luke . i am a return missionary. i went to california, sacramento on my mission. i was there from 1980-82. my trainer recited this poem at a sacrament meeting , he memorized it. everytime i read it ,it makes me remember ,who i am, and who i represented .

  3. Damon
    Damon says:

    I really want to read this to my class of 5th Graders on the first day of school, but I just can’t seem to practice it without having my emotions take over. I love this poem.

    • Reid bates
      Reid bates says:

      I served in the Tokyo South Mission under Groberg, too. I loved this and was preparing remarks for camp and googled this to be sure I have it right!

      Reid Bates
      1978 to 1980

    • Chuck King
      Chuck King says:

      I was also a missionary in Tokyo. I arrived 8 months before President Groberg, and was in Mastumoto when the mission split. I transferred to Kakegawa, and finished by opening up Hiyoshi (near Keio University).

      I was forever changed (for good) by learning to love the Japanese people.

      I have always been inspired by this poem. One Christmas, I bought 15 copies of the book and gave them to each of my kids and many friends. You can find the book on Amazon …

  4. Brian Baxter
    Brian Baxter says:

    I love the poem, it says so much, the very thing we try to instill
    in our kids. I’m going to email it to each of my kids.

  5. withheld
    withheld says:

    I served an honorable mission that I look back upon with such gratitude and then went on upon returning home married the most wonderful spouse in the world and had 6 beautiful children with But due to some genetic propensities, a few unthinking choices and also due to the profession I went into fell victim fell to the terrible clutches of prescription drug addiction. Hardly anyone truly realizes how unbelievably discouraging such an experience this is, especially as a member of the church how embarrassing and discouraging it is and how it so subtlety picks away at you sense of worth in this life. I am a solid member of the church but very few people understand who haven’t gone through this understand the embarrassment, discouragement and self disgust this brings with it and how hard it is to free yourself from the unbelievably strong clutches of this awful habit/disease. But every time I read this poem tears just flow from my eyes because of the hope this little poem brings to me, reminding me when I so often relapse and forget that there really is still is a father in heaven who still loves me. And every time I think of or read this little poem I remember there is a loving father in heaven who each time still says to me “get up and win the race” and this brings to me a hope that someday I WILL be free of this awful beast if I just continue to try.

    • A Friend
      A Friend says:

      Looks like you have the right attitude. You are right, a loving Heavenly Father is there each time for all of us (we all fall in our own ways) saying get up and win the race. The atonement is real and enables each of us to win our race as long as we are willing to get up each time we fall. What you are going thru is very difficult. I hope you are not trying it alone. As a Bishop I have watched and the most successful people not only have your great attitude, but also have a support system. Sometimes it is family, other times friend and some times just the group they find at the 12 step program the church has provided. What ever the group is they will help and be a key to your success. Good luck and keep the positive attitude. God does love each of us no matter how many times we fall.

  6. prerana rasam
    prerana rasam says:

    this poem was in my 10th standard syllabus.
    beautiful &inspirational poem & I can’t help but get emotional. My 10th standard syllabus was the best I ever had
    I love another chapter also that is ‘ Letters to Anne Frank’s father ‘.
    I wish I could have my 10th standard book back!!!!!

  7. Name
    Name says:

    A talk given on my ward had this poem as the concluding remarks… Maybe this is not the right place to do this, maybe what I share is out of place. Nonetheless it’s my choice and I hope it might benefit someone…
    I have been a porn addict since I was 6. Raised numbed to the guilt it should come from it… however I have no excuses to give. I have been making bad choices all my life regardless the fact I was born and raised in the church… I am not married, just studying at college. My day to day is a nightmare. I have joined a recovery group and leaned on friends and priesthood leaders but I still manage to let down everybody.
    I know out there there might be people who think all hope is lost. If you are one of them I exactly know how you feel. But through this poem I have regained, somehow, the hope I never knew I had.
    I know I will be okay. I know you can be okay too. Get up and try and try and try again, every time harder. Making each new effort stronger than the last. Do not despair.
    If can love someone as far away from home as me. He can and does definitely love you. And He wants you to find out. Just accept He has always been rooting for you and wants you to get up every single time you slip.
    Thanks for this inspired poem. I wish my comment has not given anybody reasons to dislike it.
    All things are possible through our Saviour Jesus Christ.

  8. MZX
    MZX says:

    This is really encouraging. When I’m low, I can look at this and know that to be last is not what defines you. How you deal with problems determines the outcome.

  9. Sarah Taylor
    Sarah Taylor says:

    This is one of my all time favorite poems. I literally get teared up when I get half way through. I bought this poem in book form about 16 years ago but lost it. So glad I found it here.


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