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I doubt there are 'keyword penalties'.
Matt Cutts confirmed this.
I have to ask how you got Matt Cutts to comment directly on your site. It seems to me that this is no easy task.
But back to my original question... has anyone had any problems with other penalties when trying to do a reinclusion request?
I have had keyword penalties before.
Otherwise it may be as suggested and you just do not have the relevance for that keyword.