On Being Old in the Time of Covid. A poem by Anne Irwin

I had forgotten that I was old
till we set up a neighbours WhatsApp group
to shop for the elderly, the vulnerable,
then someone said this included me.
My family instead of asking me to babysit
advised me to stay indoors, enquired if I’m ok.

But at 6 each evening
I relaunch my inner Lady Gaga
go dancing in the street.
twirling my brolly as I belt out
Singing in the Rain, cum cha, cha
my inner Prima Donna giving it welly.

On Mother’s Day we Zoom,
soundlessly clinking glasses.
to a balcony in Bhin Doung, a garden at Tarrea
a cottage in Spiddal, me at my kitchen table
light-hearted banter. No farewell hug
as we switch each other off.

When they are gone
a potent silence
like floating on an inhalation
waiting for the sci fi movie to begin
its invisible war.

Unruffled, the yellow birds, like Arab princes,
preen in the ivy and budding rowan,
primroses coyly scent the air
daffodils toss their brazen heads,
in wind and rain, rejoicing at Spring.

There is comfort in the lengthening day
in knowing that I will dance
on the street again tomorrow.


Will some like primrose
after wintering in a waterlogged pot
curl their soft orange petals
gentle and certain into spring?

Will some like bear
after the isolation of earth cave
emerge heavy headed, growling
their own madness?

Will some wake from virtual space
speaking in zoom monologues
controlled and moderated
finger on the off button?

and some like dragon
will ignite their thumping hearts
with the fire of sun.
Passionate to rebuild.


Anne Irwin lives in Galway. She studied English and Philosophy in U.C.Galway a long time ago. She is a homeopath and tutor at the Belfast School of Homeopathy. Her poetry can sometimes be political but generally her inspiration comes from life, nature and her ever extending family. She has three sons and seven grandchildren. Her poetry has been published in many magazines including Poetry Ireland Review, ROPEs , Skylight 47, Poetry Bus, Irish Left Review, Automatic Pilot, Boyne Berries, Galway Review, High Window, Crossway, A New Ulster etc


  1. First poem i have read in decades – currently isolated (socially) in remote outback aboriginal community – becoming elderly too – curious to hear about life lived elsewhere – my life. Cheers Anne Irwin – Tom.

  2. Love Anne Irwin’s poem “On Being Old in the Time of COVID’…I live in Western New York and can totally relate – it is universal.

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