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Mrs Maguire

40 years loyal service mother of the school
Months away from retirement well deserved overdue
Made time for those with needs the most not just a chosen few
Listened without prejudice gave good advice to busy fools
She was heard to speak highly of the girl with the dragon tattoo

Blue eyes blond hair Abbaesque glamour
Taught Spanish grammar with a slight stammer genuinely loved by pupils old and new
I know a lot about her because she taught my sister both my daughters
And way back in days of old when knights were bold she was my teacher too

Yes she had detractors was known to nag and moan
One person’s motivator another person’s crone
But what possessed a year 11 boy to commit the gravest sin
She never could have known
Hence the seeds were scattered murderous barbs have grown
A hard rain’s gonna fall where brutality shards were sown

He struck without warning stuck to the task
Hid his intention behind an implacable mask
No one could prevent the outbreak of madness
And those that may have harboured doubts or vague inclinations
As to the seriousness of the situation
Put it down to teenage angst youthful bombast
For all the wrong reasons we are now on the map

Repeatedly stabbed in the neck the back
Knifed to death in front of her class
Terrified children witness the attack
Don’t let them see me die she gasped
Then into the arms of a colleague collapsed
Where was her saviour in her hour of need
An anguished people ask

Word of the atrocity quickly spilled out
Sending seismic shock waves throughout the town
Stunned horrified the local community organised and rallied around
Multitudes came to pay tribute share common ground
To show the watching wider world that love it still abounds

A sea of flowers to fences tied
The bloom of youth hugged and cried
Feeling the hurt footballers wore Maguire 61 on the backs of their shirts
United in grief too numb to speak
The desensitised crowd set balloon lanterns free to drift
Into boundless azure skies
Spirited away

Sky news court update a juvenile takes centre stage
This was no tragic accident no defence to make
Plain simple the motive was hate
No apologies were offered no excuses made
When pressed for a reason life is good he proclaimed

Left it to his father my lifelong friend a good and decent man
To try explain away
Left it to his family to unfairly bear the burden of shame
The focal point of public outrage a slap in the face
For all the countless acts of selfless devotion made in his name
That sinking feeling could things have been done differently
Were they somehow to blame

Left to the victim’s husband and loved ones
A cross of catastrophic loss to carry forever and a day
Twilight years together cruelly snatched away
How could such terrible tragedy happen in God’s school et tu Brute?
Beauty is fleeting actions remain

Horses for courses maddening bureaucratic forces
Why the need for veils of secrecy and gagging clauses
Full disclosure it is vital to know if more should have been done
To protect her from a pupil who was known to be plotting her murder

What of the background noise from previous confrontations
The deadly chain of events that led to her demise
What lessons to be learnt from this ghastly enterprise
That even in death her rights are recognised
So we the traumatised can find some kind of closure
Help restore peace of mind somehow draw a line
Underneath the gory story the day the music died

April 28th 2014 end of an era end of a dream
A new date in the calendar of infamy
Brutal fact devils pact twas indeed a heinous act
But if evil is tangible the abominable real
Is it wrong to believe that somewhere inside the firestorm of this epic theodicy
An opposite of yin must also be

What are we to do with what are we to make
of the boy that took a life threw his own away
A figure of hate no release date
A notorious killer held indefinitely in captured state
Will we ever hear an act of contrition remorseful confession
We’ll just have to wait

Years ago it was common for schools to be named
After inspirational people deemed good and kind
Illustrious luminaires shoulders to the grind
Gave all to the cause died for the faith
Alas nowadays beatitudes have changed
Joan of Arc St Thomas Becket would turn in the grave
To see such fall from grace

What shall her legacy be how best to remember her by
To honour such exemplary service supreme sacrifice
Aspire set the bar higher what is life but to walk between great fires
Rename the school Anne Maguire
Louder louder as if we had a choice
In the meantime a small plaque on an obscure departmental wall must suffice
Out of sight out of mind

A few weeks before she was murdered
I was called out in a professional capacity
To my alma mater Corpus Christi High School Neville Road East Leeds
When she stopped me on the stairs to speak
Tell your beautiful girls that I love them
Her last words spoken to me

Beguiled tongue-tied I meekly smiled made no reply
Stood and watched her walk on by
Then I turned down the corridor to meet
Kevin Lambert and Bernard Butterfield the caretakers
To figure out a way to fix the failing of the lights
Swapped a joke shared a laugh
oblivious to the fact that we were about to be plunged into darkness
Engulfed by such horror the combined minds of Edgar Alan Poe and Mary Shelley
Could not have summoned up

The truth is thus
A parable for modern times
Chaos reigns in paradise
So say all of us