top of page
As an old collier was taking his daily walk
he came across a boy, sitting on the wall, and stopped to talk
as he looked into the young boy's eyes
he saw something, that he recognised.
The youngster had a sparkle and desire
it reminded him of himself, when he was young and full of fire
active as a union campaigner, a man always ready to fight
always willing to speak up for what is right.
Now not in the best of health but willing to share his knowledge
his only wealth of his years spent working in the mines,
dark & damp, his best friends a canary, and a cap lamp.
The boy asked him of his early days
working in the bowels of the earth,
for a meagre pay down in the dark on his knees,
sometimes choking with dust battling against the earth's black hard crust
His fingers now are bent and arthritic
hands blue scarred, and looking horrific
and his eyesight is now failing, after his years in the dark
but in his humour, he still carried a spark
His fingers, now were nicotine stained
and as he spoke, you could almost feel the pain
as the cigarette smoke, combined with the dust
made his chest heave and thrust
The cigarettes he has smoked since a young boy
are now causing him damage, not bringing him joy
and every cigarette he takes, may be his last one
and deep down he knows, the damage has been long done.
As he spoke, he told of a place where he grew up
and the workers would bath, in an old tin tub
the only light was from an old gas mantle on the wall
where this flickering light, was all they had at night fall.
At night we made our own entertainment
but as hard as life was, we still had some enjoyment 
hear the children laugh and play and swim in the stream
nowadays that is just a dream
Those days, there were no television sets
if you were lucky, you might have a radio set
some houses did not even have a lock on the door
why lock the door? we had nothing of worth , we were so poor
And as the men came home from work, hungry and tired
and had to bathe in front of the fire
and at the end of the week, they would hand over their pay
and the wives would wash their backs, but only on a Friday.
His story now told; he looks up to say so long
but he finds, the boy has now gone
as he looks around, he is nowhere to be seen
and there was no trace, as to where he had been
As time passed by,and his health deteriorated 
the doctors could do no more, he could not be treated 
and one afternoon, he quietly passed on
all his pain and suffering,now gone
He left a letter to his dearest friends on his demise
asking them not to mourn, and have no tears in their eyes
for his life he had enjoyed, unto the end
a lifetime of helping, and making friends
As he arrived at the pearly gates, he saw St Peter, lying in wait
so, he gave him a smile, and a big embrace
and thanked him, for bringing him to his heavenly place
St Peter asked him, did he remember a boy sitting on a wall
who asked him about his life and listened to it all
then he left before you could say goodbye
he was the Devil's disciple in disguise
He was the Devil's own advocate
who trawls the earth for souls, for his appetite to sate
and as he looked into your eyes, your soul he would capture
to take it back to Lucifer, his master
But when he tried your soul to sell it was refused
as you have already been to Hell as a collier on your knees,
in the bowels of the earth good hard working men,
the salt of the earth
And as soon as you were set free
your soul, then belonged to me
after fifty years of toiling, in the Devil's back yard
in the damp and dark, hands becoming calloused and hard
So, the moral of the story, for colliers one and all
is if you are ever called by someone sat on a wall
beware if they give you eye contact for all they want
is with your soul to connect.
But you now know, that when the dust finally wins
and try as he will, the Devil cannot take you in
after a lifetime in Hell, breathless and blue scarred 
now in heaven you will get your reward. 


Copyright Ralph Jones


bottom of page