‘Your turn next,’ she said
And I went in to see
What sort of an exit
They had planned for me.

The professional smile was nothing new,
At eighty two I’d seen a few
So returned it, tit-for-tat
And looked for a place to put my hat.

‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘the weather’s warm’
‘Probably build up to a storm.’
We each maintain a formal smile
As his fingers slip along a file.

‘Ah, yes,’ indicating mild surprise
‘You had your tests,’ as I surmise
Remembering to watch the eyes,
They can bamboozle otherwise.

I hear him speak, the message known
His voice may sooth, his eyes reveal,
And all the while what’s known has grown
To offset more than I can feel.

The steps ahead are now spelled out –
The words like bullets piercing me
As a relief with no more doubt
The sentence read, ‘doomed to be free.’

The return journey is the same
I’ll have some tea when I get home
And think about the changing game
And face the future all alone.