Lest We Forget Their Achievements…

It is several weeks ago now, that the #GRPG collaborated on yet another photo prompt, this time one found by yours truly. I’ll not say any more, instead I am keen to let the picture, but particularly the poets’ words tell you the story…

For iconic figures from the Paralympics

Iconic Paralympians
(This picture via Google Images, I believe courtesy of Channel 4 Television)


Marsha Berry

Wheelchair rugby
roller derby
crash and roll
with a message
for those with
four functioning limbs
that courage
is resilience
against all odds


Jacqueline Dick

You walk into my life blind
yet you see more
you limp on one leg
yet you walk tall
you do everything from your chair
yet you race willingly through life
you are my teachers
my inspiration


Craig Morris


I see your
Limbs lame, lopped
Hands clawed, cropped
Body mangled, misshapen
Eyes black, bare
Ears empty, spare

I park you there
Wheels aligned
into categorised space
A special place
I have reserved for you there

Please let me help, please let me push
Let me show you the way you should go
I know
I must make you smile

Let me be your ears, your eyes, your guide
To tell you what you can’t see
That you are disabled, don’t you see?


Marsha Berry

For George (my dad) 1919 to 1988

At 17 you went to war
wearing the white of the ski patrol
abseiling out of danger
At 21 you marched to fight
against the Fascist miasma
that threatened to plunge
your homeland into darkness…
Ar 31 you sailed to Australia
displaced to embrace
a land down under…
At 64 you lost a leg to cancer
yet you still fought
for human rights behind
the iron curtain
and when people pitied you
for being an amputee
you’d laugh it off
with gallows humour
saying “I’m off to the other side
in instalments”
and then you’d laugh
at the shock in their faces
that you could even think
such a thing


Peter Wilkin


One-legged Billy
they called him,
his difference
separating him
from all the other Williams
in the neighbourhood.
Straight backed
as a sergeant-major
his empty trouser leg
neatly folded
he would sit in the yard
and rattle his corn tin
as he cooed his brood
down from the roof
before trundling to the club
with a Red Light
glowing between his lips.
he was the bookies runner
my dad said,
which was apparently illegal
causing my mother to cringe
inside her God-blessed world.
One day
he blew the dust
from a small metal box
and showed me his gongs.
I liked the ribbons best,
blue, gold and white.
When he died
what I missed most
were his owl calls
and the smoke rings
that hung like halos
over his hairless head –
burned off by the Germans
my grandma said.


Jacqueline Dick

I walk the walk
I wheel the walk
I see the dark
the light
I’ve been to hell
and back
I do what you do
I feel what you feel
and more
now tell me
your tale


Shan Ellis-Williams




there is a difference.

Standing at the starting line,
straight and stiff,
heart in mouth
racing for something, somewhere that feels so far away in the distance that a chequered flag is all that can be seen waving like a limp limb in the summers breeze.





When the pop of the starters’ gun reverberates in hollow echoes
shocking cochlea
into action

the body screams



Louise Hastings


In the dark, I dream a miracle.
I know it by its teasing thought,
can sense the damaged nerves
renewed, the shattered spine
empowered to hold me upright.

Here, everything scintillates
and I can bend, stretch to hold
my fingers to the fullest moon.
But this fragile vertebrae will melt
come the break of dawn;
then I reach for meaning
in the subtle shades of blue,
feel the woodland air,
the susurrus of wind against my skin.

I never want to see
the face that looks right through me,
the obstacles that block and bar my way –
except you, brave soul,
who quietly meets my gaze.


John Anstie

“Normal Redefined”

I walked to the post box yesterday
and ran late for a bus,
marched around the dance floor
to my favourite tune

Hopping between the paving stones
avoiding the cracks between.
It was to feed the ritual neurosis,
which possessed me.

Hating the fact that clever Dick
was stepping on my shadow,
he seemed to tick my every move
as a credit on his list.

Bemoaning that I had a job
that wasn’t my paradigm.
Envious of those who always seemed
to set about life with fire.

Then, one good day, I arrived,
but where?
My brain and arms and legs
all there.
Good health and wealth,
but all for what?
My heart and soul and spirit
…completely lost.

We strive so long for all of life
achieving little honour.
Conforming to a cultural norm,
imprinted in our genes.

If only I had noticed the colours
were, like old grey tombstones,
dusty, jaded, black and white,
until just now, when I awoke
to find a stage that used to be
kept way out of sight
or in another universe,
in some other back yard,
hidden from public view.

There, dancing to an unknown tune,
I winced and cringed to see
the limbless, challenged freaks perform
…but, at once, I wished I was as free.

Oh, liberate me from biassed eyes
and all the lies that ‘liberty’ denies.
It isn’t they who are deformed,
but through a filtered view of me,
they have now broken through to be

…normal redefined.


All my poet friends above are inspirational, composing responses on the spur of the moment and with such alacrity. But there are none more inspirational than those courageous Paralympians who triumphed over adversity and succeeded in making those of us, who don’t make the effort to follow our dreams, pursue our goals, aspire to greater things, appear as mere shadows of what we could be.

About PoetJanstie

“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”
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12 Responses to Lest We Forget Their Achievements…

  1. Jamie Dedes says:

    A dear, wonderful, thought-provoking, kind and beautifully spontaineous post. Particularly appreciate your “Normal Redefined” … The phrase alone is a poem of sorts and life for certain.


  2. Quirina says:

    A truly amazing collection of poems and from a lovely bunch of poets. I take my hat off to you all. Q xx


  3. marousia says:

    Thank you John – thank you Jo-Anne and Eden 🙂


  4. peter wilkin says:

    Thanks Eden ~ & thanks to John for putting together this wonderful compendium of themed poems from the incredible GRPG 🙂


  5. 1emeraldcity says:

    John, you did a great job…bravo, and thank you !!. Eden, you are a star, of course, and a sweetheart as well! Your support is so greatly appreciated; thank you, thank you, dear lady!


  6. Your collaborations are wonderful reading. Individually, each of you is a beautiful poet; collectively, you are a virtual wave of creativity and literary spirit! A uniquely lovely collection…of both poems and of poets :))


  7. eden baylee says:

    These are wonderful poems, all so different yet united by one common theme.
    Truly inspiring.


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