Neither parents present at first swim,
pale-pathetic, goose-bumped skin,
life-long aquatic dread quickly set in.
Arm motions awkward, geek-clumsy,
turbulent limb-thrashed pool sudsy,
lungfuls of salt-water, Louis unlucky.
Myopic, un-muscular, aged merely six,
middle-class, very un-virile, a bit thick;
nude-nervous, fearful, in-and-out quick
from showers, menacing macho laughs:
swear-shouting sneers, working class lads;
cold brutal bulk, hated Blackrock baths.
Final failure at boarding school,
dog-paddle pupil sank like metal tool,
panic-paralysed at bottom of pool.
Flailing futile – is drowning my end?
Fully-clothed poolside form friend
prepared to jump… but slowly I ascend.
Fifty years on, feet still stupidly flap,
short-sighted blur, tight swimming cap,
infrequently visited, deep-end death-trap.
Pool-roof echoes, potent chlorine smell
nauseated ninny, tiles echo Hemmings hell,
relief when heard end-of-session bell.