The Ballymena Times Crossword

by Gerard McKeown on April 25, 2015

Click below to read my election themed short story


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Ice Beer

by Gerard McKeown on November 29, 2012

The Beautiful Goth

by Gerard McKeown on December 7, 2011

A House on the Edge of Town

by Gerard McKeown on October 8, 2011

A House on the Edge of Town

It was a Wednesday lunchtime at school and I had sneaked off for a cigarette. I always went on my own because a crowd was easily noticed. I had my own little spot from which I could remain unseen but still see anyone approach. I took out one of my Marlborough Lights and lit it. Two periods of Maths had wound me up and I felt more than usual that I had earned this smoke.

People always talked about how the first drag was the best, but I didn’t agree – my favourite part was at the end, where all the nicotine and tar had gathered. If someone asked me to keep them a smoke, I would always give them a new cigarette. I hadn’t yet had a chance to enjoy my favourite part when out of the bushes jumped my P.E teacher Mr Kernohan.

“Brian Jones, put that cigarette out now!” he shouted.

He must have gone around by the cross-country course. In my stupidity, I had believed that it would have been too muddy in February for anyone to come that way.

“You’re in a lot of trouble Jones. Come with me now.”

I knew I wasn’t going to get away with this.

“I think I’ll finish this first,” I said holding up the cigarette.


I was marched straight to the Headmaster’s office. He decided that suspension was the best way of handling the situation. This severe penalty was supposedly dealt because I was out of bounds when I was caught, but I was sure that the real reason was because they hadn’t been able to prove that Ali and I had been stealing from the changing rooms.

I was sent home. It was half eleven and my mother was still at work and I had no way to get into the house so I decided to go to Belfast for a few hours. My cigarettes had been confiscated so I had to buy some more. Before I left I stopped into the changing rooms to liberate twenty quid from a rich kid’s blazer. I figured that since Kernohan had already caught me out once today he wouldn’t be expecting me to break any more rules.

I went to the train station to find out when the next train to Belfast was leaving. It turned out that I had just missed it and there wouldn’t be another one for two hours. Blow that, I thought, I guess I’ll have to stay in Ballymena. I went to the shop to buy some cigarettes.

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When I’m Drunk

by Gerard McKeown on October 8, 2011

Ignore me when I’m drunk,
at least when I’m very drunk
and I’m starting to ramble.
But don’t fully ignore me,
Or I’ll get pissed off
And talk about you behind your back.
I know it’s childish,
You’d be best just to forget what I’d said:
When I’m drunk I mean.
Especially don’t pay attention
to what I say if it’s offensive.
Unless it’s close to the bone,
in which case I probably meant it.
But maybe I’m just angry
And taking it out on you.
Look just play it by ear.
Don’t get me wrong,
I’m great fun when I’m pissed.
Ask my friends,
But if they tell you anything bad about me,
Tell me.
Don’t be saying anything bad about me either,
Not that you will,
I just think it’s fair to warn you.
Because if you do have a problem
We can sort it out here and now.
Just step outside.

Appeared in Pinhole Camera Issue 1, Published by The University of Cumbria ISBN 1-869979

The Gnarly Surfer

by Gerard McKeown on October 8, 2011

The Practical Advantages of Kung-Fu over Karate

by Gerard McKeown on October 8, 2011

Kung-fu is better than Karate
Fucking sure it is.
Kung-fu teaches you to jab people in the throat with your fingers
This snaps their windpipe,
It’s very vicious,
No strength needed
Sure if you put any strength into it
You’d snap your fingers.

Karate’s all ‘BAM BAM’
Punching people in the mouth
Standing so that
Anyone who knew anything about fighting
Could boot fuck out of you.

Don’t get me wrong,
Karate’s a good enough way to drop someone,
But not much else.

Karate’s all about beating the other guy
Showing him that you’re the man and he’s not to mess with you again.
But Kung-fu’s about leaving him in such a state
That he won’t be able to mess with anyone again.
What you’re really doing is saying to his mates:
“It’s too late for this fucker to learn not to mess
But you fuckers can learn it.”
So they’ll know to bow down.

I mean you feel like a dick saying to someone that you do Karate.
Any wanker listening to this thinks to himself:

-Karate, eh? I’ll give this fucker a booking and impress my girlfriend.

And then you get your bad Hollywood ass kicked
While a jeering crowd watches from the side of the street.

But with Kung-fu he’ll say:

“Oh, sorry,” and he’ll stand out of your way.

Then you can steal his girlfriend
To teach him a lesson
Because you know what he would have done
Had you done Karate.

In fact he’ll say:
“It’s okay, take her. I’ll get another one. I mean, she’s got a sister.”
Then you can say:
”Oh? I’ll have her too.”

Then you can send him photographs captioned:


But if you do do Karate,
Don’t feel too bad.
It’s not as bad as doing Judo
All Judo teaches you to do is fall on your arse
And hope the other guy

First appeared in the Battery edition of Fuselit

The Dreams of the Middle-Class Poser vs. The Reality of Cool Punk

by Gerard McKeown on October 8, 2011

When you jumped, cloaked upon the stage
froth flying from your flapping jaw
excitedly enticing us to observe you explore
hedonism and art!

Your arm outstretched clutching at the air
seeming to pull passion from it
like you were a great theatrical actor, playing the Dane
and had forgotten your skull.

Though what poor Yorik meant to you
did not matter as much as what
you had to say about him made you look
to all the half-fucked faces sat,
gleefully awaiting your exploration
of the intricacies
in the relationship between
life and art
and how they mingle to create
wow and man

and after getting drunk on yourself
and two pints of beer
you crawled off to the bogs to sleep
in a pool of your own
pish and puke

while a cool young punk
rips up the posters
and kicks the PA
you’ve spent all your pocket money on
then screams “fuck this place!”
in the bar managers face
when he tells him to stop it.

Then he storms off to the bogs
to find you lying on the floor
muttering to yourself
that it’s not fair
hedonism was supposed to be such a civilised affair.

Then the cool young punk
dislodges all 32 of your adult teeth
with one swing of his shiny steel toe-capped DM boot
and celebrates the end to an excellent night out
by thinking about how life mingles with art
to create hedonism,

while his pish mingles
with your pish
on your back
and in your hair
and trickles down
onto the floor
and creates
a puddle
than any thought
you’ve ever had
in your entire life.

First appeared in Citizen 32: Class


by Gerard McKeown on October 8, 2011

Published in issue Fire No. 26 ISSN No 1367-031X

Sometimes I want to become a farmer.
Not because my ancestors were farmers
And i’m supposed to have it in my blood,
Nor is it because I’ve lived on a farm
And the experience inspired me.

I don’t want to be the sort of farmer
That Heaney talks about in his poems,
A farmer that is at one with the land
And farms not as their job but as their life.

I want to be a farmer like Burroughs.
I would wait out my boredom on my farm
Keep busy with hard work and earn money
And when I leave I would leave my boredom
Lying battered in the soil behind me
With a snapped shovel bloody beside it.

Browsing Through CDs at the Supermarket

by Gerard McKeown on October 8, 2011

This was my second time around the aisles in half an hour and the still empty basket at my side was making me feel conspicuous. I picked a pizza from the frozen food cabinet beside me and noticed it was buy one get one free, so I took another. This was my fifth time here in as many nights and I had fine-tuned these excursions to take place at half three when the supermarket was at its emptiest. I walked along the front past the tills. They were all closed, except the one at the end.

I walked through the clothes section and stopped at the CD rack on the edge of it. I looked through the different bands and singers on it. None of them were my sort of thing, but I stood my ground. I looked at the open till. The lady that sat behind it looked severe, with her thick glasses but her short, plum hair suggested a quirkiness: either that or a bad choice of brown. I fiddled with the flap of my satchel, not trying to open it. The beer that I’d drunk to suppress my nerves was sloshing about in my stomach. I burped and foam came up my throat. I swallowed again and took a few deep breaths to calm myself.

I looked around. A security guard walked past. He was about my height and not as well built but I lost my nerve and did a lap of the biscuit aisle picking up some bourbon crèmes. I came back to the CD’s and looked over them again. The Best of The Bangles; The Best of Bond Themes, Bond Themes Are Forever; The Corrs: Talk on Corners; Tracy Chapman, Matters of the Heart. I read down through the list, at all times keeping an eye on who else was in the store. There was a man walking about the store with a girl who, despite my suspicions otherwise, could have been his daughter; there was a bleary eyed drunk man who was stumbling about and muttering away to himself; then there was a nurse, probably on her break from nightshift at the local hospital, rushing round the aisles looking for the sandwiches. She asked a shop assistant, the only one on this side of the store, who directed her to them.

What was I worrying about? These people wouldn’t give me any bother and even if they did none of them were anything to worry about.

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