Opinion – Judy Harris: Poems, friendship, and kindness — a tribute to all

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.”– Khalil Gibran

One of my favorite coaches in recent years at Thomas More University was Track and Field Coach Jeff Hill.

Judy Harris (Photo provided)

Delighting in conversation whenever our paths crossed, we discovered that we were poets.

Coach Hill is African American. He calls his poems raps. His could be poems, mine could be raps. Coach Hill and I became good friends, peers in the Land of Poet.

Over the years, ever-evolving mutual trust and respect allowed us to discuss racism. With George Floyd’s death and tensions flaring in our country, we questioned each other, gained another perspective, avoided assuming, denied prejudice a foothold.

Our friendship radiated to his track and field team.

Even with the substantial difference in our ages, the student-athletes and I enjoyed getting to know each other.

And a poem happened.


Where does kindness come from?
Does it bubble
From an overflowing grateful heart?
Maybe someone
Planted a kindness seed
When I was in need?
Or is kindness born of humility,
When in my infinite smallness
I acknowledge
That every human life
Is precious,
Worthy of celebration?
So I venture forth
From years of unsaid thank-yous
To offer a smile or nod,
A thumbs-up or applause,
And realize
As kindness is extended,
Some of its warmth
Remains with me.

Judy Harris is well established in Northern Kentucky life, as a longtime elementary and university educator. A graduate of Thomas More, she began her career there in 1980 where she played a key role in teacher education and introduced students to national and international travel experiences. She has traveled and studied extensively abroad. She enjoys retirement yet stays in daily contact with university students.

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