Backcourt Games

We played beyond

the tin middens,

ignoring the smelly trash

to set up the blanket tent,

and explore being

doctors and nurses

with bandages and dolls.


Or delegated the parts

for Friday night concerts

held at the tenement close.

Hunger was satiated

by the jelly piece

thrown with accuracy

from an upstairs window.

And bags of penny sweeties

from the corner shop,

washed down

with sugarallie water

that rotted the teeth.


As we grew bigger,

the games changed

to Kick the Can,

What’s the time, Mr Woolf?

and British Bulldog,

until we added another:

Kiss, Kick or Torture.


A different exploration

began – winching

in the hidden corners

of the back stairs.

But only so far.

The fear of God

and mammy’s wrath

keeping us virgo intacta

until another day.

What are you looking for?