(photograph courtesy of Deirdre O’ Keeffe)
As someone who loves to write and who is still learning the craft of writing, I love to read the work of other writers. So I was excited when I received a message from Deirdre. She asked if I would be interested in reading a poem she had written about a young, homeless girl.
Deirdre lives in Mayfield, Cork. She is married and has two grown up children. Creativity must be in her DNA because she worked as a dressmaker for twenty five years. After her career as a dressmaker, Deirdre worked as a cook at Marymount Hospice.
During her time at Marymount, Deirdre told me that she met people who greatly touched her heart and she was inspired to write.
“I read a lot of everyday happenings. Bullying really upsets me as I feel there’s not enough done about it. I genuinely care about people and what happens to them and how they are perceived by others.”
I wanted to know who inspires Deirdre to write.
“My friend, John Lynch, writes poetry very quickly. He has inspired me. I love the work of Helen Steiner Rice. I’ve always been an avid book reader and believe the greatest gift I was given was my sight”.
Deirdre was inspired to write the poem “Homeless” while working as a volunteer in the Marymount fundraising shop. Whilst working there, Deirdre said,
“I met lots of homeless people. I know many have started out like this girl”.
Homeless: By Deirdre O’ Keeffe
I wander the streets with my head down;
Without a smile or a frown;
I’m just existing.
This is, now, my life.
My dad has found a new wife.
I’m not wanted in his new life.
I’m just in their way.
They had two more children.
I wasn’t welcome to stay.
I packed up my things,
And took one last look;
My old life now;
a closed book.
I had no one to turn to
And nowhere to stay.
I walked the streets that very first day.
I went to the shelter
Hoping a bed to get.
I was too late.
I’m going to get wet.
I stayed in a doorway
In the damp and the cold.
I was now on my own,
Just 15 years old,
I‘m really scared
Out of my wits,
Trying to mind
My precious few bits.
People passed and people stared,
I felt so alone and no one cared.
Where can I go?
What can I do?
Is this really the life I was destined to live?
I always thought I had something to give.
It’s now a year and a day since this dreary existence began
I want a home and someone to care.
I’m willing to work, to make a new life;
I’ve even considered becoming a wife.
Will someone, please, give me a chance?
So, remember those of us on the street.
We need your help to get on our feet.
Think of us that sleep in the door.
We could offer so much more.
When you give some bread and some tea.
Will you be thinking “This could be me?
So many hopes.
So many dreams.
Life is never what it seems.
I have read a selection of Deirdre’s poems. She writes honestly and directly and with a deep sense of compassion for others. She writes about current affairs issues such as homelessness, bullying and autism.
“I think as I’ve got older and my children have grown up, I’m very aware of topics like those that I’ve written about.”
My own thoughts
Writing is a rewarding, yet lonely activity. It requires self discipline and self motivation to sit and write. It takes courage to share your words with others, especially when you are an unpublished and unknown writer. What if people don’t like what I wrote? What if people laugh at my work? Maybe I should keep my work in the drawer for a little while longer?
Thank you for sharing your words with me Deirdre and for allowing me to share them on my blog. I now have beautiful images in my mind of other aspiring writers, like you and me; writing on scraps of paper when an idea springs to mind; people writing creatively to express themselves in an increasingly stressful and divided world.
When next I procrastinate about writing, I shall reach for these images to act as a motivation.
Deirdre is continually working on her poetry. I hope that, one day, she will share her work online so that I can share links to her work on “Her voice from the kitchen window”.