This is a poem written for Sue, who has just retired from the police force after over 30 years.


This is the number Sue wore on her shoulders,

Over thirty years so that she could feel bolder,

Joining the police to enforce law and order,

Challenges to meet when thugs just ignored her.

Sometimes proud of wearing that number,

Sometimes anxious, victims in slumber.

5750 occasionally resented,

Forcing her forward when no one repented.

Why did this number come calling for her?

Having to handle another racial slur.

But 5750 was loyal forever,

Giving her strength with every endeavour.

Terrified but fearless it held her tight,

When she was elated or shattered at night.

Some victims held that number on her arm,

As she comforted and helped keep them calm.

When lost in anguish some touched 5750,

Pulling her in and reassuring her swiftly,

That this is her vocation, her role in life,

Facing her fears, the heartache, the strife.

Her number has listened as she had to too,

To accounts of attacks, too familiar and true.

Her number was with her when she found Chris,

Comrades and friends she’ll never dismiss.

Same number on her tunic and fluorescent jacket,

NATO jumper, stab vest, so that she could hack it.

Resting on her locker and the front of her tray,

Ready to help her face a new day.

Standing with her when facing the storms,

Informing loved ones had passed, the tragic norms.

Trying to save lives of people who attack,

Keeping restrained and never fighting back.

It’s been blood stained, spat on, manhandled and bitten.

Statements with lies, ‘No comment,’ written.

Standing smart collecting her medals,

Then watching on as drug dealers pedal,

Hearing the abuse, ‘Just go fuck off!’

Thinking this time I’ve just had enough.

And now it’s time for the number to lie,

On the shoulders of a recruit who’s also willing to die,

In the battle to try and enforce the law,

Thinking, like Sue, that this is the last straw,

When there’s one more kick or punch in the jaw,

Another grapple and scratch from a claw.

Asking onlookers, ’What did you see?’

Pleas of innocence, ‘You’ve got to believe me!’

That number will pass on and protect once again,

From thieves and abusers but with a new friend.

It may not be with Sue for the next years ahead,

But the memories are lodged deep in her head.

Together they’ve managed for 30 years of her life,

Being attacked and threatened with a gun or a knife.

It made Sue believe in her inner strength,

Always supporting and guiding in length.

Never falling short of giving power back,

To the normal woman who was simply dressed in black.

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