Keep Away

Keep Away

Keep Away, also called Monkey in the Middle, Piggy in the Middle, Pickle in a Dish, or Pickle in the Middle, is a children's game in which two or more players must pass a ball to one another, while a player in the middle attempts to intercept it. The game could be considered a reverse form of dodgeball, because instead of trying to hit people in the middle with the ball, players attempt to keep the ball away from them.



The basic game is played by drawing a circle on the ground about ten feet in diameter. One person stands in the centre (and is called it, the piggy or the pickle) and the rest stand outside the circle. A player outside the circle must then throw the ball through the circle to another person outside the circle with the goal being to prevent the person who is it from getting to the ball. This continues until the person who is it catches the ball or otherwise gains possession due to a failed catch, deflection, etc. An intended recipient who fails to catch the ball replaces the person in the middle, unless they fail after the ball touches any part of their body. The ball cannot be torn out of any of the players hands.


Like other children's games, this has game has many variations to shape it in the manner they like to play. Some common variations are:

  • Playing with a larger area and the person who is it only has to touch the ball instead of catch it.
  • The ball must bounce at least once in the circle on a pass to prevent high lobbing passes which can give taller children an unfair advantage.
  • When the person who is it catches the ball, he must get outside the circle with the ball without getting tagged by the thrower to make them it.
  • The person outside the circle to last touch the ball becomes it instead of the last thrower. This is often used so that the person who failed to catch the ball is it instead of the thrower.
  • The person with the ball outside the circle cannot move until he or she throws it.
  • None of the people outside the circle can move around and must throw and catch from a constant position.
  • The people outside the circle must throw it within a certain amount of time, usually five seconds. This keeps the pace of the game high and prevents players from hogging the ball.
  • Playing with larger areas with multiple people being it and even multiple balls.
  • There isn't a circle
  • Similar to a Pickle, or "Rundown" in a game of baseball, 2 basemen throw a ball back and forth. A third player who is it remains safely touching a base, until he/she decides to make a play (run) for the other base. Either of the two basemen must physically tag the runner with the ball in hand to count the runner out. This is done by tossing the ball back and forth between the basemen, forcing the runner to change direction, while the basemen close the distance to the runner, until either the runner is safe at a base, or successfully tagged. When successfully tagged, the runner and the baseman exchange places, and the game continues.[citation needed]


The name of the game varies with region. In the United States, the descriptive name Keep Away seems to prevail, while Canadian children commonly refer to the game as either Pig in the Middle (Western Canada) or Monkey in the Middle (Eastern Canada, parts of New England, and parts of the Midwest). In the UK and Australia, the name Piggy in the Middle is used (almost) exclusively. The game is also common in Turkey under a name which translates to Rat in the Middle, in Denmark where it is known as what translates into Butter blob, in the netherlands they call it "Aap in het Midden" [lit: "Monkey in the Middle"] and Silly Johnny in Poland.

While the name Keep Away is self-explanatory, the origin of some of the other titles are less clear. Monkey in the Middle is likely to have arisen because the middle player jumps and waves his arms around like a monkey or ape. The names Piggy in the Middle and Pickle in a Dish are of unknown derivation.

"Pickle in the middle" derives from a baseball game... where the runner is "caught between bases" (he is in a "pickle")!

Other meanings

In America, the term pig in the middle is sometimes used as slang for being under pressure from both sides of a dispute. The similar term piggy in the middle means the same in the United Kingdom.

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Keep Away — «Keep Away» Sencillo de Godsmack del álbum Godsmack Publicación 1999 Grabación 1996 Género(s) Hard rock Duración …   Wikipedia Español

  • Keep Away — «Keep Away» Сингл Godsmack Выпущен 1999 Записан 1996 Жанр хэви метал хард рок Лейбл Universal / Republic Records …   Википедия

  • keep away — index eschew, parry Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • keep-away — n [U] AmE a children s game in which you try to catch a ball that is being thrown between two other people British Equivalent: piggy in the middle …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • keep away — verb prevent from coming close (Freq. 2) I tried to keep the child away from the pool • Hypernyms: ↑prevent, ↑keep • Verb Frames: Somebody s something from somebody Somebody s somebody PP …   Useful english dictionary

  • keep away — phrasal verb [intransitive/transitive] Word forms keep away : present tense I/you/we/they keep away he/she/it keeps away present participle keeping away past tense kept away past participle kept away keep someone/something away to avoid someone… …   English dictionary

  • keep away — v. (D; intr., tr.) to keep away from (he kept away from us; she kept the dogs away from the children) * * * [ kiːpə weɪ] (D; intr., tr.) to keep away from (he kept away from us; she kept the dogs away from the children) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • keep away — {v. phr.} To remain at a distance from. * /Her mother advised Diane to keep away from men offering a ride./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • keep away — {v. phr.} To remain at a distance from. * /Her mother advised Diane to keep away from men offering a ride./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • keep away — phr verb Keep away is used with these nouns as the object: ↑intruder …   Collocations dictionary

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