The city “Ex-Basketball Player” by john Updike chronicles the life and also daily regime of the former high institution basketball standout, Flick Webb. The speaker leader the reader on a journey v Flick’s life, starting with the major road in the town, advancing to Flick’s lowly job, and then finishing v his menial habits. Flick was when the finest basketball player in the area. However, the has due to the fact that fallen indigenous stardom and also now he simply “sells gas, checks oil, and changes flats.” (l. 19-20)

Poetic layout in "Ex-Basketball Player"

Updike laces this poem with proper diction, figurative language, and allusions come the post-World battle II era. These aspects have a good effect ~ above the ton and definition of the poem. The ESSO gas station, lemon phosphate drink, Nibs, Juju Beads, and also Necco wafers every snap the black and also white photograph usual of the so late 1940’s. The winding road leading with town is a an allegory for Flick’s very own life. The turns previous the high school, his glory days, and also halts abruptly in ~ the gas station where he will certainly most most likely work for the rest of his life. All of this gives us the nostalgic feeling of living in the 1940’s, which helps us connect to the poem and also its meaning.

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The Message

An analysis of "Ex-Basketball Player" reflects that john Updike does an efficient job of send the possible consequences of failing to acquire valuable skills and knowledge. It offer to persuade world to become more than just a ballin’ G, but rather a ballin’ G through an education. Flick had the talent vital to shine in high institution athletics. Unfortunately, those skills are obsolete after graduation day. Flick had lofty dreams, yet as man Steinbeck therefore eloquently put it, “the best-laid to plan of mice and men frequently go awry.” This work provides a relatively depressing view on life, partly since of Flick’s negative luck and also circumstances, but likewise because the his self-incurred problems.


Updike tries an extremely hard to do this a generic, relatable story. This sad tale has actually been play out plenty of times in many cities by plenty of ex-athletes. The is what provides it for this reason powerful. We all have a mental picture of Flick native our own life. Probably we worshiped the person. Probably we loathed him. Maybe we are Flick. It's a universal template that relates to nearly everyone. The emotions and memories that it provokes room what do this a an effective and enduring poem.


Flick is analogous to Biff from The death of a Salesman, because in your youth, both aspired to become athletes, just to have actually their desires sidetracked by reality and also a lack of education. Flick never ever attended college and Biff’s negative math scores prevented him from even finishing high school. In their later years, both room pigeonholed in dead-end jobs, there is no of a family, and also spending your days reliving the past. It’s amazing how the plethora that adoring fans fade away when Flick no longer dons a sporting activities jersey. Flick provides great lesson to all high school students.


Herb Duplissea on October 27, 2018:

Steinbeck may have actually said, “ the best laid plans ...” but the initial quote is in a poem by the great Scottish writer Robert Burns.

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Mark Tulin native Palm Springs, California top top October 16, 2017:

Interesting poem. Didn't understand Updike composed poetry. Thanks for introducing me come his poems.