Tag Archives: Reeling in the Years

Former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn after voting in the British General Election on December 12, 2019

Kevin writes:

My tenth, and final, poem responding to the new series of Reeling In The Years. Last evening’s episode covered 2019. This poem was written in the immediate aftermath of the UK General Election defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour by Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.In those few days it seemed like every wine-soaked, politically (and probably actually) constipated centrist swarmed onto my Facebook page to say: I told you so!

Now, under the late Keir Starmer, despite, to put it mildly, much more favourable media coverage, UK Labour is actual further behind the Tories than was the case under Corbyn and the diagnosis seems far more terminal as the huge enthusiasm that was there for Corbyn, despite all the smears, particularly among young voters is absolutely not there for Starmer. But no matter. Hope is off the table and the aforementioned centrists can get back to soaking themselves in wine and failing to properly go to the toilet but living in the hope of an invite to next year’s Spectator garden party….

After The Defeat

People who never did anything in the first place
talk about giving up; text you
from the ruins of their overworked armchairs,
while you’re stuck breathing in diesel
and death on the beach at Dunkirk.

TV studios crowd with
suddenly undead experts, all come to tell you,
now we know the chemotherapy
hasn’t worked as you’d hoped,
it’s time you took up smoking again
to see if that helps.

Devils prowl internet and Earth,
dressed in clothes almost identical to yours,
and whisper in voices
part Siren picking her lyre, part bark of jackal,
part your worst self whining,
that the only way you’ll be rid
of war, Jacob Rees Mogg, and poor people
dying of being poor

is if you desist from further silliness
and click the box to sign up
to their generous introductory offer

of a little more war, Jacob Rees Mogg
and poor people dying because they deserve it.
Terms and conditions to follow.

Kevin Higgins


Leo Varadkar with then British Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels, Belgium on September 17, 2018

Kevin writes:

My poem ‘Island’ in response to Sunday’s episode of Reeling In The Years. A major theme that year was the continuation of Theresa May’s Brexit stalemate.


(after Wislawa Szymborska)

Where men with shiny scalps
fight for the right to dye
hair they no longer have
any colour they want.

Here, garbage can by magicked
into its opposite by the mere act
of attaching to it the word: Great.

Proud nation that pays
redundant assembly-line operatives
to sell photo-shopped versions of itself
to tourists from its former colonies.

Raised voices in its cathedral city tea rooms.
So shrill a cup gets chipped
in the course of the argument
and a scone is left behind on the plate.

The roses around its cottage gates try to forget.
But, elsewhere, the dead factory remembers.

And the disgraced estate agent tries to secure the door
on what was once British Home Stores
but can’t fathom the lock.

Kevin Higgins

Reeling in the Years: 2018 (RTE)


Then Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny prepares to make a statement on the Brexit result on June 24, 2016

Kevin writes:

My poem in response to yesterday evening’s episode of Reeling In The Years deals with the Brexit referendum. I wrote this poem a couple of weeks before the vote. It is dedicated to my friend Darrell who lives in Portsmouth and was a big fan of the cheap French wine EU membership facilitated.

(for Darrell Kavanagh in his hour of need)

There will be no more thunderstorms
sent across the Channel by the French,
no acid rain floating in from Belgium.
Pizza Hut will offer a choice of
Yorkshire Pudding or Yorkshire Pudding.

You’ll spend the next twenty seven bank holidays
dismantling everything you ever bought from IKEA.
The electric shower your plumber,
Pavel, put in last week will be taken out
and you’ll be given the number of a bloke
who’s pure Billericay. Those used to caviar
will have jellied eels forced
down their magnificent throats.
Every fish and chip shop
on the Costa del Sol will in time
be relocated to Ramsgate or Carlisle.

All paving stones laid by the Irish
will be torn up to make work
for blokes who’ve been on the sick
since nineteen seventy six.
Those alleged to be involved in secretly
making spaghetti bolognaise
will be arrested and held
in a detention centre near Dover. Sausage dogs
will be put in rubber dinghies
and pointed in the general direction
of the Fatherland. Neatly sliced
French sticks topped with Pâté
will make way for fried bread
lathered with Marmite.

There’ll be no more of those new
names for coffee your gran
can’t pronounce. The entire royal family
will be shipped back to Bavaria, with the exception
of the Duke of Edinburgh who’ll be given
a one way ticket to Athens. Curry
will no longer by compulsory
after every twelfth pint of Stella,
which itself will only be available
by special permission of the Foreign Office.

We’ll give India back its tea, sit around increasingly
bellicose campfires in our rusting iron helmets,
our tankards overflowing with traditional Norse mead.

Kevin Higgins


Thousands gather to celebrate the Yes result in the Marriage Equality Referendum in Dublin Castle Courtyard on May 23, 2015

Kevin writes:

My poem in response to yesterday evening’s episode of [RTÉ One’s] Reeling In The Years, which covered 2015. I wrote the poem below in the immediate aftermath of the (overwhelming) passing of the Marriage Equality referendum in that year.

A Day of Just Yes

Word is:

the system of storms
building mid-Atlantic has now
obligingly cancelled itself out;

all remaining car accidents
have been put off until tomorrow;

no further bankruptcy notices
will come into existence
until at least Monday,
as there’s no one home
to open the envelopes;

the shadow on your mother’s
right lung will not be detectable
on an x-ray until next Wednesday
week at the earliest;

elected representatives
are permitted, for one day only,
to walk the streets openly
shaking peoples’ hands
without anyone wanting
to lock them in the boot
of an ancient Ford Escort
to think about what they’ve done
and what they’ve failed to do;

commentators from across
the ideological spectrum agree,
even Auntie Bridie’s sciatica
is better than it was
this time last week;

the other side’s slogans are,
this morning, flags
madly cheering
your victory;

the roof top crows for once
maintain a dignified silence
and appear to be enjoying
this sunshine,
which the old lady in the paper shop
says is promised
to last.

Kevin Higgins

Reeling in the Years : 2015 (RTÉ)


Kevin writes:

My poem in response to yesterday evening’s Reeling In The Years on RTÉ One, which covered 2012. I wrote this in the immediate aftermath of the death of Savita Halappanavar at our local hospital [University Hospital Galway], which you can see from our kitchen window.

The Euphemisms

(after Peter Reading)

A great and sure remedy
for unmarried ladies. A boat
somewhere so she can sort this out
and then get back to her life.
A Ryanair flight to Leeds-Bradford.
A pill the modern woman
can take with her coffee.
An ex-nurse above a fish and chip shop
who helps girls in trouble.
A day trip to a clinic
near Liverpool. Flushing it
down the lavatory. Something
the Irish government is in no rush
to legislate for. What the Bishop of Kerry
is definitely against.
Something no one wants.
The world’s second oldest profession.
A number in England her doctor
suggests she phone.
Something the Irish government
will deal with in a prompt
and appropriate manner.
The constitutional amendment of 1983.
The letters A, B, C. The letter X.
If we leave it long enough
all the letters in between.
Something you can’t have women
walking in off the street
and demanding.

Kevin Higgins

Reeling In The Years: 2012 (RTÉ)

Pic: RTÉ

This afternoon.

A new series of Reeling in the Years – covering 2010-2019 – will air from April 11, RTÉ has announced.

Anne Louise Foley writes:

From Katie Taylor to Kodaline, from Mrs Brown’s Boys to the marriage referendum, from ‘Fake News’ to Fidget Spinners, Reeling in the Years showcases the stories and the soundtrack of Ireland over the last decade. Each half-hour programme features a specific year between 2010 and 2019…This is the sixth series of Reeling in the Years, with the years from 1962 to 2009 covered to date…

Too soon.


Reeling in the Years on Sunday, April 11 at 8.30pm on RTÉ One.


Ah here.