Good Old Tommy Atkins
by Richard John Scarr
(Brighton, East Sussex, England)
He stood in threadbare uniform.
His Kit Bag by his side.
Looking at the Gates of Heaven.
And wondering if he'd be denied.
"I'm not sure I should be here, Lord.
I'm usually where there's war and strife.
You see, I was a soldier.
Nearly all my working life."
"And I know I at times, I've been the cause,
of suffering and pain.
And sometimes too, I had to do,
what went against the grain."
"But a soldier is a soldier.
And his is not to reason why.
He has no say, and must obey.
He takes an oath to do or die!"
"But when my Country was at risk.
Then I could do no wrong.
I was praised and patted on the back.
And thanked by all, for being strong."
"It was: "Good old Tommy Atkins!
You have saved the day," they said.
"And thanks to you, and your courage too.
We can all sleep soundly in our beds!"
"But what a different story, Lord.
When peace had been restored at last.
And normality was back in place.
And all the fear had passed."
"Then it was: "Bloody Tommy Atkins!
We subsidize you with our pay!
Why should we keep you hangers on?
And who needs you anyway?"
"And I found myself without a job.
The pavement for my bed!
What price the English hero now?
When he must beg for bread.
"And now at last, I find myself,
not sure where I should be.
But where ever you decide on, Lord.
Will be alright with me."
Then from within, a kind voice said:
"We've been expecting you.
So come inside, old soldier.
And bring your Kit Bag too!"