You’re Never Too Old To Know Better by Ryan Duggins

About the Author

Ryan Duggins is a Dublin-based performance poet and spoken word artist. He was born in the city of Wolverhampton in 1988 and studied creative writing at Staffordshire University. A published columnist, theatre reviewer and journalist, he now brings his working-class gaze to poetry. This is his first poetry collection. 


A children’s shoe and a carvery pub in Stoke-on-Trent.

If I were to pinpoint a moment where it was clear I’d end up writing bloody poetry, I’d say it was that day. My parents had come up to visit me for the first time since I fled the nest to university, and they were treating me to Sunday lunch. It was a thankful break from my usual diet of Jacob’s cream crackers or, if I was feeling particularly fruity, a tin of baked beans (bean juice drained down the sink) fried with bacon pieces and Thai five spice. Decadent.

I walked arm-in-arm with my mom from the door of our Toyota Corolla across the car park to the pub. Dad was shuffling behind us, fiddling with his roll-ups. Before we got to the pathway, that was inevitably flanked by a bark-infested death trap of a children’s play area, I saw from the corner of my eye something on the floor. 

I let my mom walk ahead, as I knelt to get a closer look. It was a girl’s slip-on shoe. The kind a toddler would wear to dance class. My parents walked ahead as I picked up the pump, considered it, and placed it back.

‘How’s Uni going, love?’ 

My mom asked as we sat down, dad staring at me for an answer. He was still confused at my new cockney accent I’d been putting on since I left home. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I kept it up for three years and, luckily at reunions, no one mentions it. 



I’ve given love a miss a while 
And honestly, it’s been class
I haven’t missed it for a second
The company of a lass 

My friendship group has tripled 
Career no longer in a mess
I spend my Saturday nights 
And Sunday mornings on the sesh

I can fly to see my parents 
Any day of any week
I can cancel on myself 
To go and rescue my physique
The hours of negotiation 
When talking about food
These days, I smash a Burger King 
Whenever I’m in the mood 

Even in my love hiatus 
The wolf’s  kept from the door
A cheeky snog and finger blast 
With neither party wanting more
But sitting with a pot of tea 
In my local yesterday 
My hangover’s disrupted 
With a feeling I can’t seem to push away 

My breathing seems a little colder
Like my lungs are out on show 
My shoulders slouch, I’m sinking 
When the waitress says hello 

I stumble through an order 
For another pot of brew
I’m going to bloody need it 
As I put my current state on review 

Since my last love ended, I’ve worked hard
At picking up my life
I let trauma in to talk to me
So I can figure out my strife

I’ve lived alone, I’ve moved back home
Said yes to anything I could
I ignored the devil at most turns
And put myself to good

So alone in the pub this afternoon 
Staring at the clientele 
My heart is trying to nudge me 
Something he needs to tell 

I listen to him whisper 
Whilst I’m sipping on my tea
He asks me to let him see the world again 
And find out what love has in store for me

St Patrick’s Day

Get up ya’ pup!
The boys in green!
On the sunniest day we’ve ever seen
The Liffey’s looking quite pristine
And that pint over there looks like a dream
It’s got to be Paddy’s Day

At least four pints before daybreak
No less than two, bejesus sake
And what allows us to choose this fate?
Something about a bloke and a snake
Who cares? It’s Paddys Day!

Sing the Wild Rover after a few
Molly Malone or The Foggy Dew
Pretend Sweet Caroline’s Irish too
The Brazilians won’t have a clue
It’s fun and games on Paddys Day

Go snog a stranger, make a pass
Grab a bloke, romance a lass
She’s a ride and he’s fecking gas
And they end the night to The Parting Glass
To feck, have I missed Paddy’s Day


Praise for the Poet

“In the evolution of poetry, Ryan’s work simply tells the art form to ‘get with the times, mate!’. Ryan’s poems make you laugh, make you think, while using the perfect amount of comedy and satire. This collection is digestible, relatable, and heartwarming, with some good chuckles sprinkled throughout.”

  • Dearbhla Neenan – Host of The Flo Sho, weekly performance event at The Workman’s Club, Dublin

“Ryan oozes talent. His quick wit is incomparable and his writing is individual. I find myself lost between his pensive thoughts and his ability to take the reader on an emotional yet light journey. This book is an honest reflection of his personal life, and poses questions on modern day society, particularly within the working classes.”

  • Emmet O’Brien – Poet. Host of Dublin’s Finest, a weekly showcase of Dublin’s best spoken word artists at Sin E, Ormond Quay, Dublin
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