‘Skipping Ropes And Conkers’
© Joe Canning 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Ring a ring a Rosie, catch me if you can,
spin the bottle, kiss the girls, toffee apple man.
Runny noses, elbows bare, peeping through the sleeves.
Germoline and Vaseline rubbed on wounded knees.
Penny chews, marshmallows, drumsticks, hard-boiled eggs,
Tinker kids at granny’s door begging bits of bread.
Front door step all polished red, ‘Cardinal’ polish tin,
confessions on a Saturday confessing venial sins.
Telephones of cans and strings hello! hello! hello! ”
catapults and pebble stones to shoot the old grey crow.
Pan bread dipped in ‘Bisto’ gravy, licking greasy plates,
birthday cards with dollars from an uncle in the States
Postman waving from his bike to mum as he rode by,
and her all smiles and thanking God, “there’ll be no bills today”,
girls with chalks of colours, numbered squares on streets,
playing hopscotch as they sang and hopped with skilful feet.
Paper planes we launched each day into a perfect sky,
sisters dumped by boyfriends and then wishing they could die.
Auntie Theresa dropping by and checking ears were clean,
then she a shiny sixpence gave to treat us to ice creams.
We had buckles, belts and wellies, teeth all brown with stains,
mucky faces, marbles, we were cowboys, we were braves.
The girls were pretend mothers pushing dolls in squeaky prams,
and a clip around the earhole if the door we dared to slam.
On winter nights we huddled under Greatcoats on the bed,
Mum would leave the door ajar as darkness we did dread,
but first we had to kneel with her as bedtime prayers were said,
and if we had a nightmare sure, our Ma was always there.
The cockerel welcomed in the day and off we went again,
gathering kindling for the fire in Pat Mc Crorys’ glen.
Catching minnows in our jam jars from the trickling stream,
and playing till our Ma’s would shout, “c’mon now, time for tea”.
Monday mornings off to school with Halfpennys’ in hand,
to feed the starving babies in a place called Africa.
the dreaded nit nurse hunting with her searching insect comb
and when she came across one, a wee note we took home.
Thoughts of all those golden days still live within my head,
hide and seek and being bad and being sent to bed.
Days when kids were really kids and life was far from bonkers,
treasured times of innocence, of skipping ropes and conkers.