By day the draft under the door
and a deep window's long skies
turned his head from print to thought
and what precedes them both.
'No halfers...' one version has it, 'losers weepers, finders keepers.' But Andrew McNeillie in these poems has halved things to make a paradox. 'Finders keepers' reminds him too much of the rough justice of schoolboys and emperors. 'Losers weepers' on the other hand he considers altogether too melancholy. 'Losers keepers' offers a way through, and as Robert Frost said, 'The best way out is always through.'
We live in and through our losses day by day. At the same time they may seem like gains. But they are all fleeting. We keep a hold on what we can of them. This is the work attempted by these poems, chiefly in two territories, in Ireland and Scotland, with a triangulation to 'the ancient shades, the ghosts of youth' in Oxford. Somewhat in the spirit of latter-day lyrical ballads, they include elegies or memorials to both obscure lives and more prominent ones, and lyrics that speak from the extremities of living memory.
Andrew McNeillie has had several poetry collections published. His most recent book before Losers Keepers was In Mortal Memory (Carcanet, 2010). His memoir, Once, appeared in 2009. Other books of his include the memoir An Aran Keening (2001) and the poetry collection Slower (2006). He runs the Clutag Press and edits the magazine Clutag Archipelago. He lives near Oxford.