Signify – A poem for Miss McCoombe – My old primary school teacher

I was asked to do a reading at the opening of the new teacher training unit at Manchester Metropolitan University today.
So, i Wrote a poem. It’s a poem for Miss McCoombe – My old primary school teacher – if anyone knows miss mccoombe or has any contact for her, let me now – it would be amazing to meet here again

Here’s a video link to it #Vimeo

and here’s the text


I called her Mam once

Sat up straight on the carpet

legs crossed

Hand up

Fingers on my lips

A special place

Where she’d read me poems and stories

Tell me tales

Casting nets and like a shoal of fish

I’d be drawn in swimming to the source

I loved the way she’d hold the book so I could see the pictures

And the way she’s slowly move it from side to side so that even the kids at the back could see

She told us we were allowed to dream

She made us act out plays like Finnegans wake

Told us about Shaw, Shakespeare and Joyce and Yeats

I was 8

And in that Classroom her voice was music

Echoing prayer and hymns and songs

She was a living angel

But you’d know if you did wrong

She took us on school trips

To castles with moats across oceans on boats and we would float

And we hadn’t even left the classroom

She made the register the most beautiful tune

Validating chrildrens names by simply saying

“Daniel David Kathryn and James”

Sometimes she’d get me to close my eyes

Imagine worlds beyond the sky

She once told me “it was alright to cry”

And her eyes were seaside blue sunshine

In that black and white rainy 1970’s moss side

And my messed up world disappeared every morning that she walked into the room

She made my insignificant life


Taught me that the more I read the more I see

the more I see the more I know

the more I know the more I grow

the more I grow the more I am

And I would give the world to simply hold this womans hand and say thanks

4 thoughts on “Signify – A poem for Miss McCoombe – My old primary school teacher

  1. Nice one Mike. Been having similar thoughts about an old teacher of mine these last few days. Mr Ormson taught us English at Tommy More (St Thomas More ) a grim grey comprehensive stuck between two council estates in Wigan. He was six feet seven, chain smoked rollies in class and filled my fifteen year old head with Far from the Madding Crowd and The Merchant of Venice.
    He died young othe of lung cancer but I’ll be thanking his memory at the launch of my novel in January.

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