Amy Abdullah Barry – Grip

Amy Abdullah Barry writes poems and short stories. She is published globally including Cyphers, Southword, The Sunday Tribune and elsewhere. She is featured in Breaking Ground Ireland and in RTE Radio One. Her poems have been translated into many languages. She has been awarded Literature bursaries from The Arts Council Ireland and Words Ireland. She is a professional member of the Irish Writers Centre and an honorary member of the Neruda Cultural Association, Italy. She is an awardee of the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2022. Amy is a level 1 Table tennis coach with Table tennis Ireland and a first poet to have work published in the TTI website. Her debut collection, ‘Flirting with Tigers’ will be published by Dedalus Press in April 2023.


Grip

For Teresa Devaney:
won World Gold in the Over 60 Doubles event
at the World Veterans Championships. 

“I’ve been my own boss for twenty years.
I meet different people every day,
very diverse, very interesting.”
 
Zipping through Dublin streets
in Teresa’s taxi, miniature stiletto 
sat on the dashboard,
the soft agility of her driving
takes me from her words
to the image of her at a table tennis tournament,
her double life as a Veteran player.
She’s a kind of boss there, too.
 
“It’s always a great feeling 
when they announce your name
and say you’re from Ireland.”
 
Her driving is local,
her passion is global,
a flurry of sweat, fury, precision.
She talks of strokes, spins, of frenzied rallies,
like a woman possessed,
her tongue foreign to her calm hand.
 
I only notice now
how she grips the steering wheel —
with a kind of subtle authority.
Somehow, the word ‘retirement’ surfaces.
I’m not sure who has said it —
me or her.
 
“It’s like table tennis,” she says,
“as long as I’m enjoying it,
I’ll keep doing it.”
 
These are her last words to me.
Our journey ends
with extended hands
and a grip that puts into my mind
the word “formidable”.
 
 

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