This poem was commissioned by the Community Foundation and first read in the Houses of Parliament at the launch of a campaign that encouraged older people to take up some form of exercise in order to stay healthy and socially connected.
Seem like an age since you last perspired?
Sat by a radiator reminiscing about coal?
Pension not stretching?
Counting the cost?
Face like a bulldog chewing a wasp?
Face getting wrinkled?
Pallid and tired?
Got more lines than a
very naughty schoolchild?
No phone calls?
Feeling a bit deflated
like an old leather football?
Well – pump it up!
Pump it up, wrinkly!
Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your life!
Get the blood pumping!
Get oxygen to your skin!
You’ve lived too long
in black and white;
let’s let some colour in!
Let your rosy cheeks defy
the time you’ve been alive!
regenerates over distance
if you give it time!
So be young at heart!
Give yourself a kickstart!
Get your motor running!
Get out on your bike, mate!
Sick of Countdown, tea and talking?
Get your hiking boots on –
Don’t turn into a miserable old codger;
be a better coffin dodger.
If you start trekking
you’ll live long and prosper!
Been on your own since your good wife’s demise?
Dementia taking you back to the
days on the prowl with the guys?
You wanna meet women?
There are rows and rows of blue-rinse honeys
in lines in lanes keeping trim in their bikinis,
and while you’re at the pool
you won’t have to pay for central heating!
Yes – the sound of the word cuts grates.
Yes – the sum that won’t add up
makes your heart palpitate,
your pupils dilate,
and your head ache,
That’s not the best way
to increase your heart rate, mate,
and you don’t want to be late
for the human race,
so don’t sit at home cold and alone,
from your head to your toes,
injecting your bloodstream with cortisol;
get your skates on and go.
And relax! Go do it!
Remember the prayer that brings serenity:
accept the things you cannot change,
change the things you can.
Push back the bile for a while, smile,
Take a partner by the hand;
there may be trouble ahead,
but while there’s mucus, and blood types,
and food, and no grants,
let’s play the music and dance!
And if you can’t stand,
just wave your hands
(all you wrinklies who independent).
Can’t walk for long?
Stay home; play ping pong!
One arm working? Whiff whaff?
Don’t matter you think Boris is a toff… twit!
If you’re thinking of giving up the ghost
and giving up the garden
for an easily maintained bit of crazy paving,
keep a little patch, get digging,
and get delaying the laying of that final stone.
And don’t be alone;
get out and get social.
You’ve lived and worked too long
to be bored and glum.
Life’s a party and we’re all invited!
At the end the agenda should be fun!
So, wannabe codger,
don’t be a lonely retirement home lodger;
exercise your right to be alive through… exercise!
Steal some time, fly the wrinkly Jolly Roger,
don’t be a quiz show countdown clock-watcher,
and be a better coffin dodger!