Lament of the Years – Hillsborough

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By Ric Johnson 
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Dedicated To:

The Ninety-Six

Those Left Behind

The Survivors



Being a Red, I wanted to look at the issues surrounding the disaster in 96 lines of poetry.  I hope that by composing it in the form of twelve separate poems it becomes more easily readable. In this way each poem can be itself, whether with free-flowing rhyming lines, blank verse, or with rather more difficult rhythms running through the lines.

As I wrote, I saw that some of the poems would be more naturally spoken by the female voice. Indeed, I see the Lament more as something to be spoken, rather than simply being read.

I hope you feel it does address the main issues of what happened on that terrible day.   With what will follow in the months ahead, I believe the flags and banners of this noble cause shall wave in jubilation as our people are vindicated. Justice shall see where blame should truly lie.



That we might taste justice and emerge cleansed from the lies of vipers

Twelve Poems

Eight lines in each

Ninety-six lines


Dawn of the Day

Suck You In

And Spit You Out

Wrath of the Dead

Lament of the Living

Cold Hearth, Cold Bedroom

Seek and Ye Shall be Ignored

Perversion of the Truth

Lingering Lies

Cry Justice and be Heard

Brave New Report

The Call of Time

Copyright – Ric Johnson   December 2012

Dawn of the Day

Dreams the size of footy pitches fragment into heady, new born day

As trousers, shoes, tops and socks spring together in flurried rush

Gearing Anfield’s army towards its shuddering date with destiny, alas

Sweet dreams persist, fuelled by love, hope and expectation, oh hurray!


Mothers, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, friends

Meet, leave, shout farewell, see you later alligator, and hitch those dreams

To a Sheffield hell, there, crushed by nightmares mushrooming to the sky.


How can a day be this? A jewel squeezed and pulped into endless night.


Suck You In

Leppings Lane peoplefall, trippingfall, surging, pushing, crushing, squeezing

Tidal powers of flesh-energy scour and whoosh our darlings to despair

Sweaty, gasping, grasping, hoping, praying, swaying, fraying, flailing, and

Learning to be crushed and hushed and bushed and trashed and mashed.


While over there, just over there, lie empty concrete, empty spaces, empty

While the fools look on and on and on, while the heat-steam rises from our roses

As lucky leg jerkers are pulled like willing, desperate frogs to the upper stand.


Bright buttoned fools see not the coming nightmare, playing at ignorant gods.


And Spit You Out

And flat against the barrier as the distant crowd began to sing

The boiling mass of people screamed,  “You cannot see a thing

You cannot see us dying and succumbing as you drone

You cannot see and will not see that life is fleeing, fleeing, flown”.


And strolling policemen, scant concerned as pleas spill out like rain

As “Save us, Brucie, help us, save us”, makes a terrible refrain

Until dawning understanding broke and panic tore down the cage.


Spat out its broken, crushed, unconscious fans and left the others lying, dying, one injustice of the age.


Wrath of the Dead

We lie and float on a swelling, darkening sea

Nipped by untruthful fish, clutching us, flinching us.

Wrathful, vengeful, we fisticuff these chattering fish

Greedy for retribution against the fish-eyed masters of the press


Who peddle insinuation, meddling, and sullying the scales

Of justice, aloft and blindfold, hearing not our watery cry

Ours to be scored with lies as sharp as butchers’ hooks.


When, O Lord, shall thy mercy heal us here in the darkened sea?


Lament of the Living


As the news crashed back to Liverpool and those countless ways beyond

That a chasm of darkness opened where once many a living person stood

With darling daughters and darling sons and many a darling father conned

Out of life itself, their future years, some lost to the promise of parenthood.


The shuddering shock of death’s precipice and the never-ending fall

Laid waste the countless loving hearts dismantled by it all

As silence displaced laughter, laughter, in the kitchen and the hall.


The ones bereaved lie shrivelled, shrunk, feeling the agony of it all.


Cold Hearth; Cold Bedroom

I remember now the emptiness and silence crushing my heart

Unspeaking chairs not listening and the table not taking my part

Making me an empty jug with an empty soul, turning me to stone

I cried to the Lord that I should not be, O God, I would not be alone.


I remember now that bedroom expecting him home to his unmade bed

And what remained of Friday night should be left just where it was, he said

That he’d return from the match to fix it and get rid of the mess just fine.


But he never came home and all I could do was to set up a sort of a shrine.


Seek and Ye Shall be Ignored

Blood-writers damn only themselves, printing all those despicable lies

While we shall forever denounce them, those fish-eyed ghouls of the Press

Who have flattened our voices and scorned us, despite our truthful replies

The battle lines are settled and fierce tears scald souls needing redress.


Just as waves surge over their seascape, the longer we’ll push our campaign

Our duty is clear, stand firm by our love, as we know our lost ones command

That as day follows night the truth must be told so fling back our heads once again.


We stand fast at our point in history, seeking redemption in truth’s distant land.


Perversion of the Truth

It would not have taken long for sweating, haughty minds to chase around and panic

For silvered hats and embroidered epaulettes in dread, to set the slimy system manic

Fevered conversations dribbling poisoned whisperings in our believing public’s ear

Infamous, infectious, gross and lying slander from such imperious mouths we hear.


Perversions swiftly reaching those who spider-spin the need for self-protection

An old boys club of pious uniforms intent on sleight of hand to justify inspection

A day of shame besmirching those whose duty lay in honour, betraying us, of course.


This day of shame leaps years with its cape of infamy and laughs to show remorse.



Lingering Lies

The headlines told of malcontents awash with drink and foolish, boisterous for the game

Of hooligans and senseless yobs arriving late to charge those old and shuddering gates

Their snarling purpose just to burst upon the terraces and reinforce their singing mates

Ignoring calls of growing fear beyond, cramming other red supporters to a crying shame.


And later still, in the horrors of the hour, our very own defiled those lying there, they said

Unspeakable but yet quite printable, the fish-eyed pressmen brayed their shoddy lies at us

Their accusations fast fed a listening world, desperate for moral certainty, as others bled.


These lingering lies, lying on us with the weight of mountains, crushing us, exhausting us.



Cry Justice and be Heard

Throughout the years, such broken years, heroic souls called to the Risen Lord

Wounded by the furious roar of enemies, their unbent story we fervently applaud

But never once did the heartbeat fail or the flag of honour lie unseen, neglected

They persevered against a blind, uncaring world against a verdict not respected.


The battle hymns of Liverpool thunder long across the grounds of mighty foes

While all our chanting boys and girls with loud dissent sang of shameful woes

And when at long, long last, astounded by a wicked, cruel and monumental lie


Our country with unhindered gaze said justice must be theirs, before we too shall die.



Brave New Report

And thoughtful heroes of the age unravelling the multitude deceits of cockroach liars

Four Hundred Thousand grains of sand to build a Bishop’s castle that certainly inspires

A blooming confidence in the scented rose that peers beyond the sullen, murky curtain

As this masterly accusation, alive with grim revelation, is set before a fretful nation.


Liverpool Cathedral in all its majesty, consoling these poor souls in tatters, yet proud

Hears torn-apart people, plagued by the paralysis of never ending grief, still pray aloud

And witnesses the sad-eyed Panel cry havoc against the liars with a lusty sword of fire.


This sword of reason, sword of truth, has set the stage for what we most desire.



The Call of Time

Tick tock, tick tock, can you feel the call of time?

Tick tock, Brother, can you spare another dime?

Can you tell that justice beckons as you try to creep away?

Can you feel deception melt when the sun has reached mid-day?


Do you think you’ll ever find the grace to simply speak the truth aloud?

Do you think that time’s passing makes forgetting simple for the crowd?

Will you call for water hoarsely when nearly dead and in despair?


Will you turn and weep for people you have hurt beyond repair?



15th December 2012