Ten-Year-Old Kid

he was just a ten-year-old kid

he knew little of the world

he didn’t have a grip on life

of its many complexions

and here he is, receiving the

worst news of his entire life

delivered without ceremony

no sugarcoating, no easy

way to tell something so terrible

reaction? what reaction?

he has no idea what to do

with what he’s just been told

it’s over. he knows it’s over

and there’s nothing he can do

to change the outcome

he’s emotionless, limp

still unable to process or

to cope with today’s events

somewhere, now nearly 40

years later, that kid is still

standing there, numb to

everything around him, still

wishing it was a dream, that

no one had driven up, to

deliver this crushing blow

still wondering how he’ll ever

be able to deal with this


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About John White

I've written off and on my entire life. It took years for me to finally take putting words together seriously. Now it's not, nor does it ever feel, like work. Writing daily has become habitual. No day is complete without words having appeared on the page.

Posted on October 5, 2015, in Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 68 Comments.

  1. I was just finishing up a post of me traveling to see my younger self to conquer demons. Then here came your poem. Addressing trouble and bad news as a child. Perhaps it’s the change in the air that comes with Autumn which makes us reflect.

  2. We all want life to be ‘simple’ and ‘perfect’ but alas, it never is. We just need to proceed with caution.

  3. The human spirit is pretty resilient – survival works wonders. 😉

  4. Thanks for this poem John, reminds me of one I wrote the other day. I think many of us walk around with that little kid inside from one or other pain or unresolved issue and we’ve go to do the best we can to get through it. Best. Chevvy

  5. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of you ❤️

  6. Very moving. A wonderful piece of writing.

  7. this poem reminds me of when i was 10 and my grandpa died, soon after i lost my step-grandma, grandma, and step-grandpa…these words are so powerful, thank you!

  8. septembersrose

    This begs the question- Do we ever grow up? We go on to do adult things and attempt an adult life but on the inside I’m 15, looking around wondering where all this adult stuff came from and why am I so disconnected from it?

  9. On the inside I am often still little Karen–abused, unprotected, shy, so wanting of love and understanding. On the good days I can get Dr. Stephen, the adult me, to comfort and encourage her, in the same way I took care of patients for forty years. So touched that you shared the nature of your loss. I suppose that day when the stove blew up when I was seven and I saw my single mother injured and then got sent off across the country to a father I barely knew for 8 months was one of those moments of which you write. I can’t imagine how painful the loss of a sibling must have been.

    • Thank you, Karen! 🙂 I’m sorry to hear about the troubles you went through. That sounds not only terrifying but troubling for a child in so many ways. The earlier we can deal with those issues or losses the better. But at such a young age we simply don’t fully process it all and the full implications of what has just happened. That’s when it can kick in again later in life, sadly.

  10. My Godfather died when I was very young. My Godparents were like second parents to me. My mother felt I was too young to go to the funeral. That disappointment has never left me. Then my uncle died, and I went to that funeral. My sister had a nervous breakdown on her way out of the church. For the rest of my life I’ve only been to one other funeral. It’s funny how these things stay with us throughout life. We say we grow up, and grow out of it, but maybe some things we never grow out of. Your post seems to have touched that place in a lot of people today, myself included. Thank you, and I ache for your loss.

    • Thank you so much! 🙂 I’m sorry that you endured all of that especially at such a young age. And, you’re right, that we may never grow out of some of those memories or events. I can still honestly say that I hate the smell of roses thanks to my brother’s funeral since they were everywhere. Those are years that should be reserved for mindless games and growing up and not for tragedy but life has other ideas for us far too often.

  11. John, your words remind me of a line I wrote in a poem about the loss of my dad when I was eight: “…my body grew, but I remained with you…”

    My heart resonates with your words. They are very moving. And yes, I do get that time does not take away your pain! I am so deeply sorry for your loss!

    • Thank you! 🙂 How terrible to lose your father at such a young age and to grow up without him. Parts of us do remain behind and go on with that loved one we’ve lost. They mean a lot to us and hold special places in our lives and then we’ve lost them we’ve also lost that part of ourselves.

  12. John, a childhood tragedy always leaves scars on a young mind….but as we reach adulthood we realize that clinging to the past will give us pain so we need to move on and accept the footprints of the past without ruining our present…..i wish God had deployed an angel for every child who has to deal with a tragedy!

    • Thank you! 🙂 There were scars left but most of those were dealt with. I think the problem I’ve dealt with the most has been my lack of understanding at the time. It’s great to meet you!

  13. This touched me. I remember hearing it said once a person does not die until every heart that ever loved that person dies.

  14. It has only been in the last few months that I have learned about my inner child and how to take care of her all these years later… has been a very moving experience for me and has really helped me heal from a lot of childhood hurts…. lovely writing, thank you Michelle

    • Thank you, Michelle! 🙂 That child can stay pretty quiet for a lot of years until one day it wakes up and begins to speak up. Then we’re forced to listen. Hope all is well.

  15. Thanks for reading my article on “Prostate Cancer”!
    It is for enlightenment.

  16. This is so powerfull and relatable.i just love it 👏

  17. Hey. I nominated you for an award. Check out my blog if you’re willing to play along 🙂

  18. Poignant poem. This is my first time visiting your blog so I don’t know the background but from the comments it seems it was a sibling. I’m so sorry. I lost my sister when I was 18 and she 19 the day after Christmas. She was my hero and still is. Light and Love, Shona

    • Thank you, Shona! 🙂 It was my brother, yes. Unfortunately, it sounds as if you can relate far too well since it’s such a terrible loss for anyone to lose a loved one who they cherished so much. I’m sorry for your loss because the pain of such a thing can linger for many years. All the best!

  19. This poem describes so perfectly the experience of the lost inner child. It’s profound.

  20. I like how you don’t tell us what the bad news was…keeps us wondering

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