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

By on January 4, 2011

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 gives us power 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, Dr. D. H. (Dee) Groberg.


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 did 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:


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

    • Christiane

      March 5, 2016 at 2:46 am

      Dad is this you?


  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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