Pete Ak – Llewellyn’s Chair
When I was young, about twenty-two or three
Feeling fit and powerful, there was no stopping me.
At school the Phys-Ed teachers said I was built to compete
Said I had the body of a perfect athlete and I must admit
I thought the world was at my feet.
Me and my best friend Llewellyn – we were just the same
(Well he wasn’t quite as good as me!)
But he’d be there in every game
We trained and played, sweated guts and blood
Laughed and lost and wept and won
I grinned with pride every time
I proved better than the rest
Llewellyn only smiled
when he tried his damnedest; did his best.
I complained and scowled on those days I didn’t win
Llewellyn was unhappy if he couldn’t make it training.
But then came the tragedy
For Llewellyn that is; not for me.
On a training run in the Winter of 1983
A drunk at his wheel fell asleep
Mounted the kerb, crashed in the street.
He got out of the car with a cut on his face;
Llewellyn was left numb from his toes to his waist.
This was Llewellyn; my friend, it wasn’t fair
How could he be so broken,
even prayers could not repair?
While I could stand and pose, athletic, strong and ripped
Llewellyn played dead in his hospital bed
And couldn’t even shit
Without help from a nurse…
Who, as it happens was also pretty fit!
But Llewellyn it occurs
was now completely averse
To those young man dalliances.
Lustful, empty, young man romances
That, just like a bubble, will float and burst.
Llewellyn looked and acted
As if he were waiting for his hearse.
While I got distracted by my rock ‘n roll years
And put strength and athleticism to the best of use.
I scored awesome goals (and girls!)
And racked up some cracking tries.
I breasted the winning tape
Delivered knock-out blows and masked (with lies)
The fact my brain was out of shape.
I chased good times and glory
Collecting titles, medals and kisses
Was hard facing the reality
Of Llewellyn’s paralysis.
So while my fuse burnt fiercely
I heard about Llewellyn occasionally
And from the depths of his melancholy
He began racing in his chair apparently.
Now I’ve never watched much of those Paralympics
To be honest I’ve always felt them slightly offensive.
I thought them patronising – another ‘P.C.’ trick
But I was strong and powerful and a pretty thoughtless prick!
As my career unfolded to cheers, applause and ovations
I was strong, but not quite strong enough
To fulfil my sporting ambitions…
Or was it, ‘just not strong enough, not fast enough
There had been times
I should have trained
But I complained
I was feeling yucky.
So I didn’t go.
There were times I know
I could have won
Had I prepared myself with care.
But I took my gifts with nonchalance
Not like Llewellyn in his chair.
He trained and raced and worked like a demon
Honed his muscles and his mind to perfection.
When we met I hardly recognised
This paragon of application
With a glint in his eyes
Who didn’t quite know how to say,
He could sense my dissatisfaction
As my sporting life lurched toward inaction.
Complaceny and laziness had by now conspired
To drain the body powerful
Of athletic spark and fire.
Yet, deep behind Llewellyn’s eyes
There was no dullness or lack of spirit
Whatever it was that I never had,
Llewellyn was crackling with it.
- Posted in: Poetry