Friend or Foe, a poem by Andrea Walker at

Friend or Foe

Friend or Foe

written by: Andrea Walker


Friend or foe?
Halt! Who goes there?
I’d shout these words
On every occasion, with care

Patrolling the edges of camp
So many times, in battle
As my Comrades slept
Rammed all in, like cattle

We’d hastily purloin
A building grey and cold
Abandoned and empty
Following orders, we’d been told

Taking it in turns, to fitfully sleep
In buildings, now bombed out
As one of us kept watch
Halt! Friend or foe? We’d shout

Finally, somebody advanced
One foggy night, on foreign land
I was quaking in my boots
My rifle shook in my hand

As was expected of me
Halt, friend or foe? I sighed
There was a quiver in my voice
Nobody ever replied

And after again screaming out
Only the wind whispered ‘shhhh’
I was all but alone
Until a shot, broke the hush

As they peered down at me
On finding me on the ground
I kept my stuff upper lip
Let out not one single sound

I’d been shot in the hip
Whoever had fired at me
It was very clear now, had fled
There was nobody around, to see

As I bled out right there
I prayed I’d make the night
A medic tended to my wound
My heart was filled with fright

For me, the war was over
I was instantly invalided home
No more, patrolling perimeters
My strength was almost gone

I was returned to Blighty
My battle was for survival now
I’d never again see war
I had to readjust, somehow

Years have flown by
I’m living out my twilight years
When suddenly I’m back in France
The present disappears

I can hear I’m not alone
I shout out, plain and clear
Are you friend or foe?
But a reply, I struggle to hear

I’ll not be caught out again
I’ll defend myself with honour
Whoever is circling me? Beware!
Or you’ll soon be a gonna!

I take out my penknife
I hold it tightly in my frail hand
I clutch the door for support
As once more, I shout my command

Friend or Foe? I cry
A nearby rustle, so I jab
I hear somebody fall
I’m satisfied with my stab

They’re moving me now
Into a place of safety, they say
The cleaner, she won’t press charges
So here, it seems, I’ll stay

I lashed out in plain fear
All the anger of my inner war
Confusion added by my age
Now mortified to my core

No charges were brought
I was let off with a warning
But the whole sorry episode
Gave me a sudden dawning

What if it wasn’t foe, that night
Who’d shot me in their confusion
What if it was just a civilian
I was the enemy, in their delusion

What if, like me they’d lived
The rest of their years, in strife
Reliving the moment the bullet hit
Wrecking like mine, their own life?

There is no real foe
Only friends we never got to become
Forced to hate each other
Miles away from home

Fighting someone else’s war
For some other’s need to control
Ruining lives forever
Ripping out each soul

At last I’ve laid my ghosts to rest
I’ve learnt the lesson intended
And everything’s became clear
Bridges, at last are mended

I sent out a wish to the fellow
Who must have felt such blame
Dead or alive, as he’ll be now
We are one, and the same

Not friend, nor foe
Just silly boys, that’s all
Fighting only, the futility of war
Pulled the trigger, on hearing my call

Halt! Who goes there?
Friend or Foe?
If somebody asked me that now
The answer I would know …

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