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a rare talent

A poem:

I didn’t understand enough about your life
Your family circumstances or your strife
You hid your pain behind deceitful wiles
Playing the joker with the widest smiles

You never really talked about the home front
Discussions on family were seen as an affront
We tried to involve your mother when you did well
But apathy and anger was where she did dwell

After school you went home without delay
Siblings to support, ironically not child’s play
You were clearly the family standard bearer
Sad for one so young to be a full time Carer

We never knew you got such inspiration from school
Or at home that a parent could be so full of ridicule
Your mother was struggling with her own bleak world
Against a cloud of depression she was regularly curled

You protected your mother without any blame
And defended and loved her just the same
One day in school we were in a group session
When you told us a story a bit like a confession

You told us a tale of what you had wanted the most
Of the next door Caribbean family around a Sunday roast
With aunts, uncles, parents and children shouting in glee
A simple joyful tale of what for you could never be

You described the sights and sounds of that happy day
With your nose pressed to the fence in the saddest way
I looked around as the children and staff listening in
Not a dry eye in the house, you could have heard a pin

We felt so much for you but you said we misunderstood
It wasn’t a tale of woe at all but instead a tale of good
You told us that you never wanted for anything more
At school you had a family at your deep heart’s core

You pointed and named our staff as your uncles and aunt,
and you said we were everything that you could ever want
A ready made family who looked after you and deeply cared
And you remembered us if you despaired or were scared

You graduated from our school at the end of that year
And off you went to college to pursue your career
And I often wonder what people think when they see you
Do they see your journey, strength and talents like we do

Will your hard work and talent sustain and carry you
Without our pushing will you have the follow through
Will the years of parental apathy and disinterest catch up
Or will your extended school family be sufficient back up

Thomas Keaney, 2018