Keeping Mum

Mother’s Day in 1988 was Sunday, 13th. March and has a particular significance, because it was the day that “our Mam” died in the Queen’s Hospital in Nottingham, so I was keen to write something on this 30th. anniversary. Rhyming poetry is my preferred form, but I thought I’d see if I could write a poem with half-rhymes as line endings as it’s less intrusive and perhaps more serious than my usual stuff. Wilfred Owen’s World War I poem, “Strange Meeting”, is a brilliant example.

Keeping Mum

It’s Mother’s Day; it’s Mothering Sunday

with shades of meaning for all and sundry:

a simple “Thank You”; a floral gesture;

recognition of beloved progenitor;

something heartfelt, sincere and tender

a gushy card or double entendre-

laden, red-cheeked, seaside-saucy (think McGill).


30 years ago, our bedside vigil,

with false alarms, drew softly to a close,

as if she offered us an unavoidable excuse.

Pauses stretched between her stertorous breaths

she, interminably becalmed in mini-deaths,

until that pallor once rouged cheeks imbued

and we each clasped a hand helpless by her bed,


her heart’s drum beating the retreat, then gone

and our era of memories began.

So Mother’s Day holds that added poignancy

when thoughts of Lucy come with frequency

and conjure bitter sweet “Remember when…”s

and send us to our keyboard or our pens.

Beware the almost Ides of March, my friend

when Death calls time and brings Life to its end.



  1. STEPHEN JOSEPH · March 15, 2018


    Sent from my iPad



  2. bunnymanzimbo · March 16, 2018

    Nice one Phil, here’s the one I wrote for my Mum

    “Follow your dreams” You always said, But my dreams are weird Because I eat lots of cheese Before I go to bed, So I’ve been to some strange places, But when I’m there I think of you.

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Margaret Welfare · March 18, 2018

    Lovely one Phil. My mum died in March 1974 so particularly poignant for me – would have been her 57th birthday later that March. But then Sarah had been born the previous March …. birth, death & ides


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