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The Detached Man

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Can you see the detached man,
With his coat and ancient hat?
As stifling heat hits the room,
He's no time for idle chat,
When his stream of life got murky,
After losing a love so fair,
Now he sits in frayed-grey grousers,
Curled up on a brown leather chair.

His family strive to breach his mind,
As he grapples with his thoughts,
Which seem to hit the four bare walls,
Discoloured like tea-stained cloths,
Is there anyone at home they ask?
We have so much to discuss,
Annoying neighbours on busy streets,
Hung over railings of reddish rust.

And what about the grandkids,
Aren't they growing up so fast,
Alas he hardly knows their names,
Never mind details of their pasts,
Their efforts fall on deaf ears,
As he reaches to tie his shoes,
What won the last at Lingfield Park?
Who stuffed toilet roll down the loo?

Now his Petersons gather daily dust,
There's no smell from Malton tins,
His bottles of beer are out of date,
Like the stubble on his ageing chin,
Not the type to mix and chat,
Nor suffer fools too gladly,
How the indifference of a one-man show,
Can affect twilight years so sadly.

It's hard for such a gentle soul,
So dapper and direct,
One who never bothered man nor child,
And treated everyone with respect,
Now alone in his corner,
With curtains drawn all day,
Sun has no part in his well-being,
It's a price no Dad should pay.

But when he hits that dark wall,
An anxious family can only pray,
Tat Mammy's on the other side,
With his pipe and favourite tray.
Will you let me go and join her?
He pleads with outstretched hands,
If only kids were Genies,
His wish would be their command.

(From "No, no . . . they're good poems, they're not great poems." By John Kelly)

John Kelly Poems

available at: Castle Bookshop in Leixlip (on Captain's Hill)
and also online at
Price 7.99

"Language of beguiling simplicity" - Eamon Dunphy