30th January 1972, Lagan Valley Hospital
Lisburn, Northern Ireland
You were a wrinkled bundle o’ joy when you first came along
A soldier’s bairn, your eyes squinting up at the world,
You didn’t understand the remarks being made or feel the hurt being wrung,
From the hearts of the women standing there. Anger laced every word
How could we have known that your birth would be a forerunner to such hurt.
It was bloody Sunday and, as I held you near, I knew that life would change,
But the wariness I felt as I carried you along stays with me to this day.
Who knows what made the difference between one woman and the next
But it seemed that we were all on the edge of an unstoppable swirling vortex.
How on Earth had it come to this, the troops had all been welcomed.
Tea and biscuits at every turn. Kindness had been the custom,
But that kindness was somehow changed to hatred and guns led the way.
To bloody slaughter on all sides and families having to pay
They gathered in Creggan to march that day for their basic human rights.
An end to internment and injustice were their goals and they were willing to fight the fight.
As they marched along, with determination in their hearts, the guns opened fire,
And thirteen lay dead in the tarmac and tears, making a bloodied pyre
Who was to blame you hear people shout. The cry goes up “Not me”
Perhaps it was the ministers of the kirks or the Senior officers who led the way
Did the marchers have any part to play? If yes, they paid the price.
No, it was the soldiers who bore the shame although they had no voice.
We look to our Government to clarify its aims.
But the soldiers were pawns in an everchanging game
Politicians guided by sectarian hate wouldn’t budge
Bitterness had set in and conflict was the judge
To Governments who do not value their armed forces,
Remember that, when the chips are down, your fate is on their shoulders.
Our soldiers are not the toys of fools. Their role is to protect .
The cost at times so heavy with no accolades to collect
Nearly fifty years have gone now. We have a fragile peace
But are all of our people valued, whatever colour, belief or creed
It is they who bring us “hope and glory” and this can be achieved
Through mutual respect and trust, unfettered by political division and greed.
At this time of fear and uncertainty, perhaps the old wounds can be healed.
We will enjoy peace and happiness once more and our bonds can again be sealed.
Shirley Gibson 21.03.2020 copyright