Poem: The Race by D. H. Groberg

By on January 4, 2011

boy running in raceThe Savior’s parable of the lost coin tells about a woman who had ten pieces of silver and lost one. When the woman found her missing piece of silver she called her friends “saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15: 9-10) The lesson of that parable is similar to the moral of the story in the poem below.

The Race, by D. H. Groberg is an instructive poem, but also a lot of fun and I thought I’d start the new year off with it. I like this poem 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, 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. And He and the angles of heaven rejoice, like the woman who lost the coin, with great rejoicing when we cross that finish line.

And if we realize, like the poem says, that “winning is no more than this–to rise each time you fall” then we will indeed win a place in a mansion of Our Heavenly Father.

“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 started 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; now 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 the race
Or tie for first, 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 sped, as if they were on fire
To win, to be the hero there, was each boy’s desire.
And one boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought, “My dad will be so proud.”
But as he speeded down the field, across the shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arm 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 he’d 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 the 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 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 that said again, “Get up and win the race!”
So, he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last;
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.
“There’s no sense running more. 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 weren’t 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 win 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 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 crossed the finish 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 won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad, he sadly said, “I didn’t do so 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, “Get up and win the race!”


About Jimmy

I served a Mission in Rosario Argentina from 1995 to 1997. An amazing experience! I work for the LDS Church managing websites, doing web analytics, and SEO. I am married to the lovely Heather, and we have six wonderful children. Read more about Jimmy Smith here.


  1. Nive

    April 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    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.

  2. Simon

    May 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I cry every time I read this poem. So uplifting! Hats off to the author.


    June 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    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 .

  4. zain khan

    June 27, 2012 at 10:13 am

    this poem is very motivational
    it is my 10 std and i get uplifted through it

  5. Katina

    August 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    This is wonderful poem. I read it when get discourage.

  6. Damon

    August 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    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.

  7. Heather

    November 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    “Poem: The Race by D. H. Groberg – Mormon Mission Prep” ended up being a great blog
    post. If merely there was far more web blogs like
    this amazing one on the actual net. At any rate, thank you for ur precious time,

  8. Mike

    November 11, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I was a missionary under President Groberg. I have referred to this poem my whole life it helps you keep things in perspective

    • Reid bates

      July 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      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

      November 1, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      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 … http://www.amazon.com/Race-Lifes-Greatest-Lesson/dp/0446533076/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

  9. Brian Baxter

    April 17, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    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.

  10. withheld

    September 27, 2014 at 9:54 am

    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.

  11. prerana rasam

    August 10, 2015 at 8:24 am

    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!!!!!

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