War and Christmas – 2 pieces for peace

Christmas 1914

It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
And the angels bent down to the earth,
And the machine guns changed into harps,
And the leaden bullets turned into golden carols
That drifted across no man’s land,
On an otherwise silent but holy night,
And all was clear and all was bright,
But with stars and moonlight
Instead of shells and flares and whiz bangs,
And choirs of soldiers joined the angels
While all the bloodied uniformed citizens
Of heaven above watched in hushed exultation
As helmets and caps and whisky and schnapps
Were passed from frozen side to frightened side,
And all the barbed wire shone with wintry hope,
And all the dead rose from flooded fox holes,
And men who dug and mined and shot and killed,
Looked for a symbol of Christmas peace and goodwill,
And a tommy kicked a football up into the air,
And there it stayed, suspended high up in the sky,
Shining for ever in a continent’s memory,
A star of peace in a bleak mid winter’s century.

There he stands, one eyebrow arched
In a handsome film star pose,
Ready to fight again for king and country,
Not long married and only just a father,
Ready to hack his way through the jungle
After doing his bit in the desert and at Tobruk,
My dad, engineer and killer,
Now standing in a frame on by back room book case,
Reminding me of how he’d put me on his knee,
And tell me tales of his Chindit campaigns,
The Japanese soldiers calling through the trees,
Insistent hidden voices slowly driving you mad,
“ “ Over here Tommy, over here”,
And if you gave yourself away son, you were dead.”
And this man, carpenter and sparky and genius,
A man who could sing and drink you under the table,
The man who taught his eldest son the beauty of geometry,
The man who taught his youngest son the beauty of the dribble
And all the mathematics of the touch line hugging body swerve,
Squats in the Burmese jungle in 1943,
And pens these acrostic lines for his darling daughter,
My sister, the aptly named Felicity –
Few Xmas tides you have known
Each one with daddy far from home
Lonely though these appear
I am with thoughts to you near
Christmas is a festive season
In which to celebrate a reason
This is the time when Christ was born
You won’t forget on Xmas morn?

Thanks Dad – We’ll never walk alone.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/news/2004/12/12/war-and-christmas-2-pieces-for-peace/