The Final Inspection

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

‘Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you ?
Have you always turned the other cheek ?
To My Church have you been true?’

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
‘No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint.

I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.

I know I don’t deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

‘Step forward now, you soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.’

Author Unknown~

I used this poem during a memorial ceremony for Des, a wonderful ‘old soldier.’ We had a small table in the center of the residents lounge on which burned a candle, his war medals were proudly displayed beside photograps of him from childhood onwards. Proceedings began with everyone raising a glass of sherry in his memory (his favourite tipple). The residents shared their memories of Des with his family who attended, then they spoke about his earlier life and adventures. Music and more poetrywas followed by afternoon tea. The occasion was a true celebration of a life well lived.

It was so much more comfortable for thr elderly and frail residents to pay their last respects to Des in the comfort and warmth of their communal lounge that sitting in the crem wondering whose turn it would be next?