A footballer and a friend

20 Mar

Strange how Fabrice and Mike are linked. The former is a 23year old footballer fighting for his life following a heart attack at White Hart lane; the latter my great friend and colleague who died of a heart attack on 10th Feb 2012, aged 58. My thoughts are with them both today and we all hope that the small signs of improvement for the young man will augur well for a full recovery.

And dear Mike Wilkinson. An outstanding educator in the Mr Chips mould. Not for him the tick-boxing and jargon of the new-age teaching profession. No. A teacher of compassion and insight, of fun and professionalism; a man who knew what he was doing and why he was there.

Although the language – the poetry, scripture, words and music – of his memorial was fitting, eloquent and uplifting, we, the congregation, still struggled to make the words match our feelings. We struggle to make sense of a death at 58, never mind the problems encountered with those younger. Perhaps we did better in the pub afterwards, oiled as Mike would have been, so the anecdotes rolled off tongues and those living enjoyed being together, a closeness that, for a while, gave a security from private thoughts of Mike that follow me now.

And then a friend sent a poem. One he had been struggling with. His attempt to say something more than conversational, hoping that structure and form would give greater meaning. He did well and I felt moved to push on as the word post – after, after life, after death – moved around my head and linked with so many thoughts, words, images, ideas. I hope this works a little.

Post Mike

I must repeat that HE IS DEAD

Until the words repeated so

Become the truth and what is said

Becomes what I don’t want to know.

*

So MIKE IS DEAD, yes, MIKE IS DEAD

And so much Harveys left to drink!

The ragged shaving; balding head;

That smile, my friend, still makes me think –

*

Still. Stills of you are in my head.

A slide show on repeating loops.

The truth seems not that YOU ARE DEAD.

It’s me, my heart, my spirit droops.

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