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By John Kelly

And as I hold your hand on a stormy night,
In a room full of crying relatives,
I allow my mind to drift back to that fateful day,
When you set a new national record,
Clearing garden fences like a seasoned athlete,
After news of the accident invaded Rita's kitchen,
The older sister who lived a stone's throw away;
I had been playing in a field next to Carroll's Butchers,
And as I scaled a ten-foot wall,
I dislodged a massive stone,
That gouged out a large chunk of flesh below my knee,
The gaping hole resembling an active volcano;
Jumping to my feet I legged it home,
To the safety of maternal arms;
Not to worry, mammy will put a plaster on it;
There'll be no need to go to hospital;
Now my puppy eyes pleaded with you,
But we both knew that the blood and guts,
Required moulding and stitching;
And it was you stroking my hand,
As two strapping nurses held me down,
While a doctor dragged a needle and catgut,
Through the ugly wound;
Sewing done we returned home,
The patient feeling a wee bit sorry for himself;
But I knew you'd be there for me,
Like an old mother hen,
Because you were my mammy,
With the kind heart and gentle soul;
And now here in the Mater,
In a dimly lit room,
With the machines going hammer and tongs,
I never felt so helpless;
There's so much to say,
But I need you alone,
And they're queuing at the bedside;
I can't even give you a farewell fag;
Cigarettes and oxygen make strange bedfellows;
Then you raise my hand towards your face,
Place my finger between your lips,
And after sucking on it gently,
You blow out contentedly,
The smoke existing only in our imaginations;
And as you smile emotions stir,
It could be you walking to Toolan's,
With a Rothmans in your hand,
Escaping the chaos at home,
As Bob reaches for wallpaper paste,
And a damp tea cloth;
And I remember thinking,
What I'd give to be back in Sarsfield Park,
With you and dad,
Sitting by the fireside,
Next to Smokey and Rex,
Watching an episode of the Riordans;
What Id give to skip up the path,
Charge through the front door and ask,
What's for tea tonight mammy?