OK Here's How I Did It just now:
<span class='post-meta-key'>Reading:</span> Pendragon Cycle, Mansfield Park
I made a post and created a "Reading" key in the custom fields area below the writing area of a post. In the "value" I put a book I'm reading.
I then saved the post, and then chose the drop down "select" to choose "Reading" from the "add a new custom field" and input a second book I'm reading into that value field.
So I had two custom keys there, both called "reading" with different values, a different book each.
On the index.php template I put this:
<?php the_meta() ; ?>
in the same div as holds the post title and categories the post is filed under, etc. I have it placed underneath all that stuff so that it shows up last.
I published the post and this is the output I got:
"Reading: Pendragon Cycle, Mansfield Park"
This is what it looks like on the Source of the web page:
Posts that have no custom field entries do not show any of the above last code on the source ... so only meta data shows up this way in posts that it's entered as this thread is stating.
I puzzled over this thread and custom fields a few times the last week, and then decided to tackle it today. It took me 5-minutes to finally read, and implement, so I wanted to write this so that anyone else can figure out how to at least put per-post-meta-data in via custom fields.
It was simple. I look forward to seeing further implementation from plugins and new tags!
See it on my post testing Meta