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Poetry by William Johnston



I have been catapulted back into this ring today

To be honest, over the last thirty years, I have never been away

But this time my body has been ravaged by illness and age

Weakened by kidney, heart failure, vascular disease, arthritis and a trapped nerve in the back

This time, I am definitely not the favourite in this rematch


However. I am told age bequeaths wisdom

A formidable team in my corner to support my fight for freedom

Renal consultant, General Practitioner forms the foundation

Numerous specialist surgeons to monitor my condition

My renal psychologist to prepare my mind

I must have faith in all as I put my life in their hands


So, this rematch is not as one-sided as it first appeared

No white towel will be thrown which was my greatest fear

But I must have faith in another if I am to win this fight

The provider of all knowledge, strength and light

The most powerful life trainer in in the world, the God Almighty

With him in my corner I should be alright




NIGHTIME I close my eyes and I am FLYING

Lifted high and low by the warm breath of compassionate sea airs

The sky is so clear mirroring the deep blue ocean far below.

The sun is shining brightly welcoming me to a day of escapism in the sky

My wings are strong and stretch to reveal glorious white feathers

Angelic wings that could only have been created in Heaven

Here there is no pain or tiredness just exhilaration

Because it’s time to make the most of this God-given creation.


I swoop quickly to join the game being played by my friends down below

Darting swallows, seagulls, seabirds performing aerial gymnastics, somersaults and cartwheels

Sharp dives and climbs and aerobatic displays so intricate to make the red arrows envious.

I feel so free, so liberated, so alive and I give myself permission to laugh out loud and smile

The world is my oyster which I have the liberty to explore

Gliding on generous winds which kiss my feathers to guide me to witness wonders

I spot the vibrant colours of a playful rainbow inviting me to chase it to find it’s pot of gold.

I swoop, I dive, I laugh, I smile


But curtains of darkness descend and I begin to feel that familiar tiredness, fatigue and pain

Reluctantly and uncontrollably, I tumble head over heels from the sky losing my fight to stay

My wonderful wings melt and morph into the structure of my chronically ill body

I am returning to my world of fear, uncertainty, vulnerability and fragility

MORNING, I open my eyes and yet again find myself GROUNDED!


The poem conveys the difference that Organ Donation can make and highlights the challenges of living with a chronic illness, the tiredness, pain and forever living in hope.




Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the highlight of the night

Introducing in the Blue Corner, WJ fighting for his life

Introducing in the Red Corner, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Hoping to make WJ beg for mercy bent double on his knees


CKD throws the first punch with daily fluid restriction

WJ resists and adheres with whole hearted conviction

CKD comes back with restrictions on favourite foods

WJ just laughs as he knows this can only do him good


WJ refuses to buckle and is determined not to be beat

He goes swimming, stays fit, CKD begins to feel the heat

But CKD attacks WJs mental strength to grind him into the ground

Those promised compatible donors are no longer to be found


Wounded and stunned WJ searches for new tactics from his corner

Home dialysis programme is introduced and WJ begins to feel so much stronger

CKD failed to realise that new technology will allow WJ to constantly attack

No matter what CKD throws, the resilient WJ will keep on bouncing back


“So bring it on, CKD” you hear WJ proudly shout

“Do your very worst as you will never knock me out”

“I am one patient who will never live in fear”

“As I am determined to keep fighting CKD for many more a year”


Post Script

WJ won this Big Fight and was awarded his Gift of Life

But CKD will always be in the background demanding a re-match

And a chance of yet another Big Fight


THE BIG FIGHT was written as a poem of defiance that Chronic Kidney Failure would not win.





The Call from above arrives which sets me on my way

The voice informs me calmly that this could be my day

A kidney has been donated which perhaps may set me free

But please remember, William, you are only one of three


Arriving at the City hospital I go to the 11th floor

Greeted by a nurse I have met many times before

Each of the patients appear, all with the common plea

“Let it be my kidney so maybe I will be set free”


Bloods are taken and sent for that all important test

I send a pray to God and hope for the very best

I have an ECG and sent for the chest X-ray

So, if by a miracle, it’s my kidney, there will be no delay

Then I am left to think and all I can do is wait

The time goes so slowly and it’s getting extremely late

I dream of sparkling rainbows and that elusive pot of gold

But suddenly a nurse appears with a face so stony cold


Time stands still, I gulp for air, I can hear my heart beat

My mind begins to melt and quickly overheats

Is it my turn? Or is it God’s little game and just another tease

Let it be my kidney, Oh Please! Oh Please! Oh Please!


“It’s a positive cross match” the nurse is sorry to have to tell

The door to the promised land slams shut, welcome back to hell

I turn to my family who are looking quite forlorn

Hope disappears, reality hits, it was just another false dawn


THE FALSE DAWN was written after the disappointment of being called to the Belfast City Hospital for a possible transplant a fourth time only for it not to be viable yet again.





They are a group of people who really care

Who are willing to give their love to share

Their dedication and professionalism put me to shame

I am a pain in the butt if I don’t play the game


But they have a patience and a will to forgive

And make allowances so I can live

I owe them my well-being and my health

If I won the lottery they could have my wealth


They pit with my tantrums and my bad moods

They overcome problems and only do good

I wish I could tell them of immense gratitude

So please forgive me if I am ever rude


Who are these heroes I hear you ask

These people with this unwelcome task

Who are God’s living Angels but with no wings

Who give life-saving hope without asking for a thing?


These saviours are the Northern Ireland Nursing profession

Who treat damaged flowers so they have a chance to blossom.


THE NURSES is written in gratitude and appreciation for everything the Renal Nursing Profession does for the renal patients.