Thursday 15 June 2023



I think this may be the first poem I ever wrote.  I was  brought up in a council estate in Northern Ireland in the fifties/sixties. There were no playground facilities so we roamed, unchaperoned and there was a great freedom to that. The bars referred  to separated the footpath from the road and were a popular spot  to hang out and hang off, preferably upside down...But the religious divide was ever present. Council estates were segregated zones for the most part. Ours dubbed The White City  being the oldest estate had a mixture of creeds unlike the Ponderosa where Aunt Annie lived in a Catholic enclave. It got its name from the ranch in Bonanza a long running western soap from the fifties and sixties. But we all walked a very thin line and long before violence broke out we could smell gunsmoke on the horizon.The silence we lived in was one of fear.



Tumbling over the bars



Knickers in the air

Nobody watching.


Tennis on the footpath

No nets-no lines

Few rules-just balls

Always landing in

Mrs Quinn’s garden.


The delight of foraging

Through Toner’s back-yard.

Rumours extending

Like a ripple from the rear

of adults alerted.


And rumours of The Boys

Braving the Tricolour

Shouts of freedom

Heading for Coalisland

Followed by silence.

Copyright 2023 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

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