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11 July 2014
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Mike Boyle

I am from Drummuck near Maghera. I attended Trench Belfast in the mid-1960s and Seamus Heaney was one of my teachers. I am now working on a new play about N.Ireland in 1956. Would you believe it that as a "nipper" I was a Christmas Rhymer in South Derry and that then a few years later I took part in the famous mummering tradition of Newfoundland?

Before the First Ball by Mike Boyle


Our stadium of the light-a stony front street

With the byre and army hut as goal posts.

No stands or crowds –only broken concrete

Did we exist at all? Or were we hidden ghosts.

The battered pig's bladder floated upwards

Disturbing nesting swallows. No whistles

And the World Cup has started. The ball is

amongst the clutching hands, feet and heads.

Difficult to control like a balloon wanting to be free

During the Christmas rhyming that year

Our Johnny Funny collected the money in

Old Aunt Cassie's frying pan.

We had three pounds fifteen and six.

Enough for a new leather O'Neill's number three.

And we never used a pig's bladder again.


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