The return of football, the U-turn and Socially distanced schooling. Three poems by Helen Davies

The return of football

Football behind closed doors,
Crowd noise with fake applause,
Every one of those seats normally taken,
Over 42,000 if I’m not mistaken.

How many of you had the same thought as me?
When you settled down to watch the match at Villa Park after tea,
Capacity there is over forty two thousand,
A similar number of people in the UK have died from Covid-19.
A full stadium.
Now empty.

During the silence at the start of the game,
It’s like every single one of those plastic seats,
Represented an individual, a person, a name,
Waiting for us to pay our respects.

The debate will continue, the discussion will go on,
Do you prefer crowd switched off or do you prefer crowd switched on?
Does it really matter?
Instead, think of all those people who were with us,
Who could have been there,
But now,
Are gone.

The U-turn

A government u-turn driven by a footballer,
Used to running rings around his opponents,
And tackling to get what he wants,
He certainly attacked this one head on.

In his compassionate open letter,
Rashford spoke from the heart, not with his feet,
And proved that to effect change,
You don’t need a parliamentary seat.

He might not be lifting any silverware today,
But what he’s achieved, means more than any trophy,
He’s given hope…
He’s given reassurance…
He’s provided a lifeline.
Not many can say they’ve achieved that in their lifetime.

Euro 2020 is not happening this summer,
I’m sure we can live without football.
1.3 million children will not go to bed hungry this summer,
We could not have lived with the alternative.

Socially distanced schooling

Socially distanced schooling,
Doesn’t feel like schooling at all,
From a distance means,
There’s a barrier, a bit like a wall.

No subtle whispers of encouragement,
No quiet supportive phrase,
No close-up coaxing or cajoling,
Or hushed words of praise.

No offering a helping hand,
Or a shoulder on which to cry,
Just clear boundaries about boundaries,
And we all know the reasons why.

But it’s what we have to do,
We have to change our ways,
So that we do the best that we can,
In the coming months, weeks and days.

All the natural things we do,
Like walking from desk to desk,
Looking over shoulders to check, point out, correct,
We can no longer do which will feel very strange,
Everything now should be safe, from a 2 metre range.

But we CAN use our voices,
To welcome, reassure and praise,
We CAN read and share and sing,
And question in many different ways.

We CAN use our ears to listen to what our students say,
We CAN answer their questions and try to help them on their way,
We CAN use our eyes to give them ‘that look’,
We CAN tell if they’re feeling down,
We CAN use our washed hands to applaud their hard work,
We CAN make smiles from frowns.

Socially distanced schooling,
Doesn’t feel like schooling at all,
But the most important thing in all of this,
It’s that we’ll be there to help them climb over that wall.


I am an English teacher from Morecambe in Lancashire. I have been writing a poem a day every day since the schools closed on March 20th 2020. I share my poems on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and they have been very well received by friends and family. Would love to publish a little anthology one day…


  1. I have read your poems every day now and I think they are brilliant – such an a great way to capture what we have been going through. Keep going!! Xx

  2. Fabulous poems Helen I have looked forward to everyone every morning xx

  3. A very special lady and teacher. Love you Helen Davies xxx

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