are you afraid of anything?

“Are you afraid of anything?”

Richard was quiet a long time. “Yes,
I am afraid of the future.
I am afraid to grow older.
I never used to think of it,
now it’s on my mind every day.
I will be so lonely
when hockey is over for me.”

“Can you coach, maybe?”

I can’t change
the way a man plays hockey.
Either he can play it
or he can’t.
I can’t help him.”

He looked at the ice,
his eyes moving up and down its length.

“I give myself another day,
that’s all.
I just count one day ahead to be able to play.
For the last four or five years,
I’ve been the oldest in the league.
That’s terrible
for a man to think about.”

• June Callwood talks to Maurice Richard for Maclean’s, May 9, 1959; excerpted, edited, and poemized.