When the Queen shook hands with Bobby Moore,

He wiped his in awkward reverence,

(Just in the way that Larkin reacted

By taking off his cycle clips in Church).

Such acts of unrehearsed respect,

Like the embarrassing curtsies

And those tongue-tied conversations,

May be the closest that we come,

Quite unwittingly, to sampling

A world of habits which endures

As years and decades drizzle past,

Until all lives and customs cease.


Queen Elizabeth II

◄ The Big Men

Time ►


Profile image

Stephen Gospage

Tue 13th Sep 2022 14:18

Thanks to Steve and K Lynn for liking this.

Profile image

Stephen Gospage

Sat 10th Sep 2022 17:05

Well put, MC.

Profile image

M.C. Newberry

Sat 10th Sep 2022 16:48

I believe her greatest legacy is the way that the system she so
graciously and effectively represented for so long has moved
ahead, with her son and heir showing the way with what has been described as a "pitch perfect" address to the nation. Her
late Majesty would surely nod her head vigorously in happy
acceptance of that manifestation of the ongoing value of the institution of monarchy in these islands..

Profile image

Stephen Gospage

Sat 10th Sep 2022 15:50

Thank you very much, Greg, John and Isobel. Your comments are much appreciated.

Isobel, you have rightly spotted that I am not by nature a flag-waving monarchist but, as you say, I did respect the Queen and her attitude to duty and service, which was inspiring when compared to the antics of Johnson and Co. She also embodied a quiet patriotism as opposed to their bombastic nationalism. I have always been fascinated by the 'awkward reverence' that members of the public show towards even minor royals on all sorts of occasions. I remember Jan Kodes, the Czech who won the Wimbledon men's singles title many years back, going to enormous lengths to perform the right kind of bow when receiving his trophy (although André Agassi struck a blow for freedom by refusing to take his baseball cap off).

Greg - I agree that its a shame that fans cannot express their condolences this weekend. It would have been an opportunity to show the widespread affection for the Queen, and I think they have missed a trick. Likewise, perhaps the Proms could have been rejigged slightly (I know it's difficult at short notice), instead of being cancelled. The Larkin verse is difficult to beat, although one could argue that the Queen changed quite a lot and that her ability to adapt and learn was the key to her popularity.

John - thank you. I'm pleased that a tribute can be tender even when it is understated. I tried to incorporate a sense of affection among the sadder tones of the poems.

And my thanks to Frederick, Holden, Pete, Russell and Flyntland for liking this.

Profile image


Sat 10th Sep 2022 10:51

I like this and the comments it has attracted. It is thoughtful and understated and quietly respectful of a person who probably wasn't revered by the poet.

Love or hate the idea of the monarchy, I think it represents a huge part of our culture and national identity. The queen was quietly respected by many and Charles has big shoes to fill. It will interesting to see what happens going forward.

Profile image

John Botterill

Sat 10th Sep 2022 09:26

A beautiful poem, Stephen. Pure class. 😎
A tender tribute, which as Greg correctly says, has echoes of Larkin in the sad tones, the rhythm and the falling cadence in the final line. Great!

Profile image

Greg Freeman

Fri 9th Sep 2022 19:57

A revealing moment to focus on, Steve. One of the nation's greatest triumphs, after all. And Bobby Moore felt he had to remember his manners, after 120 minutes of the most important match of his life. Last night West Ham fans spontaneously sang the national anthem during a moment for the Queen before the kick-off. Shame that the FA is not permitting similar moments elsewhere this weekend. Thanks for this fine, dare I say it, Larkinesque poem. And Larkin himself, who refused the job of poet laureate, nevertheless came up with these lines for the 1977 silver jubilee: "In times when nothing stood / But worsened, or grew strange, / There was one constant good: / She did not change."

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message