all content David B Neal


Poem of the month
Past Presence


Past Presence

This forms a small part of the exhibition by Nicola McKenna & David Neal

most recently on show at BBC Radio Lancashire

We dedicate this to those heroes who have given their lives serving their country

Empty Helmets

British forces have proved their worth,

there isn't a place where they wouldn't serve,

combating tyranny all round the Earth.

Give them the due and respect they deserve!


A modern helmet lost in the scrub

of vicious, hostile Afghanistan.

Engaged in a war that no-one will win,

our troops do the best that anyone can.


A helmet shed in a Belfast street

by half a brick, as likely as not.

Men with Kalashnikovs are there to defeat-

ten-year-old kiddies are not.


Or the helmet in the Falklands

where they'd "yomped" from end to end,

just to free two thousand farmers

that we'd committed to defend.


We see an empty helmet down there in the mud.

We know a British unit has been here shedding blood

and a British combat helmet lays in a desert land

where a vicious war with no rules is fought out in the sand.


The modern British soldier is professional to the core

and more than a match for anyone in any kind of war.

But cast off combat helmets get abandoned on the ground.

We pray that all our forces are brought back safe and sound.


It takes but a moment to ruin a life

by bullet or land mine, by rocket or knife,

to be a brief mention on six-o'-clock news

between football scores and celebrities' booze.


The service and suffering are often the same

for wives and for children caught up in a game

that's not of their making they didn't agree

to play such a part in a stark tragedy.


Photograph Nicola McKenna - all rights reserved 2010

Poem David B Neal - all rights reserved 2010