Here is just a small selection from the sixty poems/stories from Poems From a Runaway
Available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1981314350
(Poem 3 of 60)
Based on my first experience missing overnight having gone missing for two days aged 10.
Another bad letter from school today,
and my mum has already got stress.
I just feel now that I’m a burden on people,
and this is just gonna make mess.
Don’t wanna hear anger, don’t wanna hear shouting,
and I don’t wanna make my mum swear.
I just feel it’s better for everyone here,
if I made my own way elsewhere.
I don’t really know where I’m going to,
but the road down to Stafford ain’t far.
I just really hope that I don’t get caught,
by someone that spots me from a car.
So I make my way a mile and half down the road,
Until there’s a turning to take.
There’s a sign that says ‘Stone’ and the name sounds quite cool,
so that is the way that I make.
Never heard of this place, but I think with that name that there’s surely there something to see.
So I head on my way, and I think by now
that my mum could be looking for me.
I walk through the village of Little Haywood,
still trying to head towards Stone.
Across the road were two girls, and one recognised me,
and I told them I’d ran off from home.
They offered to help me get somewhere to sleep,
“We’ll sneak you some food too”, they said.
I met them both later, and at first the plan,
was for one of them to sneak me into their shed.
“I can’t get you in, because my dad is at home,
but here’s a blanket you can keep.
I know just the place, there’s a ditch down the road,
it’s sheltered and you’ll get some sleep.”
So we made our way and walked up the road,
through the village and then to the top end.
We then get to a junction where there’s a main road, the way to Stone just round the bend.
One girl pointed over to across the road,
and said “Look there’s that ditch you can stay.
It’s covered in trees, look we got to go back,
because there’s not much light left in the day.”
They gave me a pillow and I made a bed,
with a blanket and a bag from them I’d lent.
They then gave me some fruit and said “We’ve got to scoot, We’ll see you tomorrow” then went.
I wondered around for a short while,
but soon did come quick the dark night.
And every few minutes came fast cars and headlights,
and I just hoped that I’d stayed out of sight.
By now I know, that I’ve crossed the line,
and I’ve actually now ran away.
But I’m under the moon and now look at the stars,
and haven’t thought once about the next day.
When morning came I then wandered around,
but there’s nothing at all here I can do.
So I waited around to meet up with the girls,
when I’ll see them next I’ve not got a clue.
In the afternoon I then bumped into them,
when they had got back home from their school.
“The police have been asking everyone about you”
she said, but I just kept my cool.
“We’ll pop up by later and drop you some food”,
one of the girls had then said to me.
“I’ll sneak out my pudding, and come and bring it out to you once I’ve finished my tea”.
I met them both later and one girl had said
“Maybe it’s time that you went back home.”
I said “I’ll be alright, I’ll just stay one more night,
then make my way over to Stone.”
And then around midnight I must have been tired,
as I stared at the branch of a tree.
For over five minutes, I’d contemplated,
if there was a big spider in front of me.
I’d got really scared and then so made a leap,
right out of the bush quick like a stag.
Now what do I do? Because in there’s my blanket,
my food, my coat and my bag.
So I make my way just a few yards down the road,
to a house with some lights I could see.
I knocked on the door, a middle-aged man then answered,
I said “Please mate, could you help me?”
“I think there’s a spider in the bush I’ve been sleeping,
and I just need to get back my stuff.”
“How old are you mate?” he then asked me,
“And why are you out there sleeping rough?”
“Seventeen” I replied, “And I’ve been kicked out,
Is there anything at all you can do?”
“I’ll just get my torch” he then said in reply,
“Then I will come there to help you.”
We walked to the bush and then he shone his torch,
and said “Mate, there’s nothing to fear.
Your stuff is alright, and there is no sight,
of a spider that would bite you here.”
So then I said “Thanks” and then off the man went,
and I felt like a fool for my scare.
And then I could see around four miles away,
a helicopter up in the air.
“What if that helicopter was looking for me?
“It’s probably not” in my head I said,
before closing my eyes to try to get some sleep,
but I still have those thoughts in my head.
I’d got no more than around one hour’s sleep,
and I’d woken up covered in sticks.
I went to find warmth, but there was nowhere at all,
by now it was sometime around six.
Two hours go by, oh now what should I do?
I shouldn’t stay here one day again.
But most of my morning I simply spent trying,
to get myself out of the rain.
I did all that I could to try and find shelter,
but there’s nowhere, this village is small.
And then on my way back, again to the ditch,
it seemed that I’d hit a brick wall.
I don’t know how I’m gonna survive,
no money, no food and I’m wet.
There’s nowhere to go, except for back home,
and then I found myself upset.
The only thing, I could think of to do,
was to flag down a car that came by.
And tell them that I have ran off from home,
maybe they’ll get me home into the dry.
So I see some cars and I wave and I shout,
but the first five or so cars ignore.
And then a nice lady stops whilst I am crying,
I tell her I can’t run anymore.
“Get in” she says, “I’ll help you get back,
I’m a nurse” then she showed me ID.
I said I was scared that I’d let them all down,
but she said they’d be glad to see me.
We got to her house and she gave me a towel,
and then she rang the police from her house phone.
She walked back in the room and said “They’re on their way soon, and your mum just wants you there back home.”
A policeman came by, and picked me up,
I was scared that my mum would be mad.
“Don’t worry” he said “You just need your bed,
You’re alright and everyone’s glad.”
“If you’d not been found within the next half an hour,
We were gonna put you on the TV.”
And he then told me last night they’d got a chopper,
Out all night looking for me.
RUNNING FURTHER PART 2
(Poem 8 of 60)
First time of many running away to London at just under 12 years old.
I dart out of the door and take a sharp left and then sprint through the nearby alleyway.
I know there’s a train station across the road, and plenty of time in the day.
Hope that nobody sees me and grasses me up, and I don’t know what time these trains come.
And only once have I ever even been on a train when I went to Walsall once with my mum.
I got to the station and in just a few seconds, a train had pulled in straight away.
I see there’s a lady train guard standing there so I make my way over and say,
“Where does this train go?” and she then replied -“Birmingham” so I went onto the train.
Hope that I’ve not been spotted, and my heart is now racing, but at the same time I try to act plain.
The train then starts moving, and my hearts beating faster, a mix of excitement and fear.
I’m scared that the police might recognise me, and maybe they’ll come onto here.
I’ve heard that Birmingham is a big place, and that is all I really know.
And no-one will think to look for me there, so that is where I will go.
I then get a ticket from the other train guard, hoping no questions are asked.
I pull out a twenty because now I have plenty, and I’m leaving this place in the past.
“Child ticket?” he asks, and with “Yes” I reply, and he gives me my ticket and change.
And I’m glad that the train’s driving so far away, as it now starts to get out of range.
A few stations later the train then stops at Bloxwich, and on my carriage get on two police.
I hope they don’t see me because it’s inside school hours, but I’m wearing my tracksuit and fleece.
I’m crapping it now, will they recognise me? Am I about to get caught by a cop?
But luckily they both got off at Walsall, which thankfully was the next stop.
Past Bescot Stadium and Tamebridge Parkway, past Villa Park right into Brum.
I wonder by now if the police know that I’m missing, and reported by my foster mum.
‘Oh what a big tunnel, I’ve never done this’, I thought as the train pulled into New Street.
Tried my best to keep normal and stay inconspicuous, as I got up from my seat.
The doors then opened and I got off the train, and then felt an adrenaline stream.
First time in a city whilst on my own tod, and the furthest alone that I’d been.
I walked behind the commuters, they all seemed in a rush, and then the main hall was where I got to.
Every time that I saw a police officer’s clothes
I tried my best to stay right out of view.
Convinced that they’d seen me, I’d quickly walk on, and then I’d turn my head over my shoulder.
Did not hang about, as I felt I stood out,
because everyone around was much older.
Walked outside of the station and past some more police, but I didn’t spend much time on the street.
I then turned around to go back to the shop,
to buy myself something to eat.
And then I saw the departure boards,
and on the screen I then saw Coventry.
And I’d been fascinated by the designing of stadiums, when I’d watched the football on the TV.
So that’s where I’ll go, to Coventry’s stadium,
just have a quick peek from outside.
So I find my way to the train ticket office,
and go on to pay for my ride.
Back through the manned gates and down to the train, on the way to Coventry I now go.
It’s been a good couple of hours since I had left home,
surely by now they must know.
No police on this train, I’m now much more relaxed,
as I observe life around from this chair.
There are all sorts of people, going all sorts of places, and it’s not long until I get there.
I get off the train and then walk out of the station,
to try and find where Coventry play.
But there weren’t many people around to ask for directions, and I had no clue of the way.
I walked back in to the station, didn’t know what to do, still hoping I’d not yet been seen.
And then I saw in big bright orange letters,
“London Euston” on the timetable screen.
‘London Euston?’ I thought, I wonder if that
is the capital city or not?
And if it is, then that sounds exciting, I’d like to go there a lot.
Or is it a village in the middle of nowhere, that just happens to share the same name?
I don’t want to be stuck out in the sticks
like I was in Great Haywood again.
So I asked a man waiting inside the station
“Excuse me mate could you help me?
Does that writing there that says ‘London Euston’ mean ‘London’ as in the city?”
The man in his twenties then chuckled and said,
“Yes mate that’s the same place.
The train comes in five minutes, and it arrives on this platform” in which I then replied to him “ace.”
And when the train came with excitement I jumped on,
the inside seemed well kept and plush.
As the train left I then once yet again, felt that same big intense rush.
The ticket inspector came up and so I got out my cash,
and said “A child single to London mate, please.”
As I gave him my money he then printed my ticket, and looked at me with slight unease.
“Where are you going when you get to London?” the ticket inspector then suddenly said.
Then I had to think of the quickest thing, which had come to me from inside my head.
“I’m meeting a pen-pal” I then replied, “Where does he live?” the ticket man says.
“I can’t quite remember” was what I’d thought to say, “But I’m staying there for a few days.”
“Is anyone meeting you at the other end? Have you got a number for them you can call?”
In which I reply “His dad’s meeting me there, and I don’t have a number at all.”
“So where are your bags?” he continues to ask, “Surely you have packed up some clothes?”
“His dad’s lending me some” was the first answer I thought, and I start to wonder if he now knows.
“Okay” he then said as he gave me a ticket
and then walked off once I’d said “Thank you.”
A big sigh of relief, I can now once again breathe, as I sit and I think to myself ‘Phew’.
But it’s not over yet, could have he called the police? Will there be some at the other end?
Or did he believe my quick made up story
that I was off to see my friend?
The train pulls into Euston station,
I can’t believe that I’ve made it here.
I get that same rush that I’ve been getting all day,
the mix of excitement and fear.
Don’t let the police see me, I try and act straight,
in the middle of the crowds I will stay.
But my chances of getting caught now feel a lot slimmer, because I’m feeling so far away.
And then I walk into the main hall,
still early and got loads of time.
Make my way through the station, and then I see
a big London underground sign.
I’d only once seen that red and blue symbol,
on my mum’s computer game.
With some tunnels you’d walk through with no tracks at all, I didn’t think that there’d be a train.
So for a few moments in my mind I had thought, they were just tunnels to walk underground.
Until I’d seen all the ticket machines,
and then down below I heard a train sound.
I looked at the map and I couldn’t believe
the number of stations I saw.
I know that I now can get away,
like I’ve not got to before.
This time it’s different, I’ve got money to travel,
another ticket I now can afford.
I read names of some places that I’d vaguely heard of, mainly from the Monopoly board.
Piccadilly Circus, Waterloo,
King’s Cross and Leicester Square.
Leicester Square looks quite easy to get to from here, so I think that I will go there.
I buy a ticket and get down to the train, everything feels so busy to me.
Its hustle and bustle and people look different, I feel that there’s so much to see.
I didn’t realise that the stations were so close,
I was surprised how quick I’d got there.
The train felt so fast as it had passed,
through the tunnels and then to Leicester Square.
The train soon pulls in and I leave the tube station,
and I take a short wander around.
The first time I’d seen buskers and human statues,
and homeless folk there on the ground.
Portrait artists and tourists with maps,
all different nationalities.
I heard foreign-spoken languages all around me,
and there seemed to be lots of Chinese.
Not too long after whilst still walking around,
it had then started to lightly rain.
And I wasn’t sure if it would then start to pour,
so I went back to get on the train.
I look at the map and I then see
Piccadilly Circus is just one stop away.
And I’ve never been to once see a circus,
so there for a while I will stay.
Unknown to me then, it was only a few yards walk through Coventry Street.
I’d brought one more ticket and got back on the train,
but had walked more than I’d sat in my seat.
I saw the bright lights that you’d see on the postcards, it felt like I was at the fair.
See yet more buskers, and tourists would get
Henna tattoos whilst sat on a chair.
I wandered around and absorbed it all in,
still with no plan or no purpose.
I then asked a man in a group out on the town,
“Excuse me mate, where is this circus?”
“This is it mate” he then replied,
“There’s no circus?” I had then asked.
“It’s not that kind of circus, it’s because of the road” he said as so many folk passed.
Not too long after, I made my way
back on to the underground.
And once again looked at the tube map,
to see what places could be found.
‘Angel’ sounded an interesting place,
felt like something to see would be there.
But I soon got bored with not much to do,
so I decided that I’d go elsewhere.
I walked back to the tube and then looked at the map, and saw ‘Arsenal’ next to a blue line.
I supported that team and to go to Highbury,
was a newfound childhood dream of mine.
After asking the staff inside the tube station,
if that was where Arsenal play.
I then once again got on a train,
sat down this time and made my way.
And to my surprise the station was busy,
plenty of folk were walking in.
And outside of the tube was a bloke selling scarfs,
and flags from inside of a bin.
A game had been on there at Highbury,
so I made my way up to the ground.
The gates were still open and people were leaving,
so I went inside to look around.
Up a few stairs and through the long hall,
to the top corner of the end stand.
I imagine they’re playing and Ian Wright’s scoring,
and then in front of my face waves a hand.
“I’m sorry mate, but you’ve got to leave,
we’re emptying the stadium now”,
“No worries” I said, because I was just glad,
that I’d caught a good look in somehow.
Out of the stadium and back to the tube,
I don’t really know where to go.
So I rode the tube back to Piccadilly Circus,
where buskers would put on a show.
The sound of loud bongos and folk having fun,
when I got there it had now turned to night.
And it ain’t gone dead quiet like where I am from,
and the vibe at the time felt alright.
I walked down the street where I saw a souvenir shop, so I brought myself a wallet from there.
And then soon I see that I have quickly,
wandered back to Leicester Square.
I walk past the buskers and the pizzerias, and the tube station that I now know.
But time’s ticking on and I still haven’t found,
any kind of shelter to go.
Back to the tube map now where do I go,
somewhere safe this time of night?
And then I saw Whitechapel station,
and thought that it sounded alright.
Surely I’m safe near some big white chapel,
it doesn’t sound a busy place.
No-one will be around there at night surely,
which means that few will see my face.
I buy yet one more ticket, still plenty of money,
and I feel like a millionaire.
Through the barriers and down the escalators,
a Rasta busker plays Bob Marley there.
I change at Kings Cross, learn to read the tube map,
get on the Hammersmith and City line.
I’m sure it will be quite a beautiful place,
and this big white chapel will be fine.
(Poem 14 of 60)
My methods of staying undetected in areas social services thought I might be at 12 years old.
Again I’m in London, and I’m back on the run,
and because I was grassed up before,
I need to stay undetected, so that nobody finds me,
I’m going to have to try more.
No-one can know that my real is Ben,
and that I’ve ran away from care.
Folk will be asking for me around Whitechapel,
so it’s best they think I’ve not been there.
So I speak a fake accent, a pretend East End Cockney, from the moment I wake until night.
For the whole next four months, with everyone that I meet, just so I know that I’m alright.
Or else they might find me, when the old bill ask questions, someone might say “I know him.”
So if everyone thinks that I’m from round here,
the chances I’m caught are quite slim.
One day plain-clothes police pulled me outside Victoria station, asking people outside for spare change.
They were gonna release me, but decided they couldn’t,
as I was young and my story seemed strange.
The address that I gave, just didn’t exist,
which I’d said in my fake Cockney voice.
And two-and-half hours later, they still wouldn’t release me, I knew I did not have a choice.
“Hands up I’ve been caught, I’m not really from here.”
I said like I spoke when back home.
I thought they’d go mad, but in the end I was glad,
it all ended in humourful tone.
“You did have us fooled, we thought you were local,
it was just the address that you gave,
Which had made us suspicious, or else we would have released you out onto your way.”
Well its more lessons learnt for the next time I guess, as I wait to be brought home by escort.
If you need to stop for the bog, they’ll walk you right to the door, but the lift home there’s time for some thought.
A few hours later I’m well on my way,
and I know at least I’ll get a warm bed.
Once I get back, to the kids home where I live,
I’ll wash all my clothes and get fed.
But everyone knows that I’ll soon be back,
via hitchhiking or bunking the train.
And I’ll always choose a different way to get there,
No-one will find me if I don’t pick the same.
From Winnersh Triangle, Watford Gap,
Oxford, Milton Keynes.
I’m searching for my independence.
Nothing stops these dreams.
I know that I can make my way, back to find Joanne.
Just go the way they least expect, was usually my plan.
Often I would walk through town, through Pinner, St Johns Wood.
As long as no-one knows I’m Ben, I’ll reckon I’ll be good.
FREE DRINKS ON HAYMARKET
(Poem 30 of 60)
A memory from my days living rough in London's West End
This time I’d ran off in my tracksuit top, with a Walsall FC badge on it.
I’d walked past the big sports cafe down on Haymarket.
I’ve had a good day hustling, and I’ll go in there I think,
to check out what this place is like, and get myself a drink.
Screens everywhere and racing car tables, this place was cool I had thought.
And at the end of the room I soon got surprised, that inside was a basketball court.
I dropped down my bag and in there I went, and took a few shots at the net.
Then wandered around and walked up the next floor, because I’m sure that there’s more to see yet.
I went to the bar and then sat on a seat, and brought myself one pint of beer.
I’m glancing around, and then the barman asks me “So what’s it that brings you in here?”
I then look down at my tracksuit top, and then I go straight on to say,
“I play in goal for Walsall FC reserves, and it’s Millwall that we play today.”
It had been the first thought that I’d had in my head, which was the main reason I lied.
Always needed a story to keep a good cover, with depth and sometimes hard I tried.
“Are you from Australia?” I then asked him, “New Zealand.” he said back to me.
And then after I’d sat and brought a few whiskies, he told me the next ones were free.
“Just give me ten pence or something like that, for the camera that’s there on the wall.
Because if they see you give money, and see me give back change, there’s nothing they can do at all.”
Another hour or so and plenty of drinks, I now am sure feeling the whisky,
I say thanks and goodbye and then make my way out, and then walk along Haymarket tipsy.
(Poem 36 of 60)
Based on my times sleeping rough on Piccadilly W1 as a 13-15 year old runaway between living in foster care and childrens's homes.
I sometimes wonder if they really knew, I guess I will just never know.
Some people would come with some kind-hearted questions, my answers were sort of a show.
I’d say I was eighteen and I was out here because I’d been kicked out and alone.
Sometimes I’d still wonder if they’d ever thought that I’d ran off from care or from home.
It’s not often like this, but once in a while you’ll find curious people out there.
That wanted to know why I lived on the streets, it’s a good thing to know that they care.
“Where are you parents and your other family?” Every time those folk would ask.
But in fear of being caught or grassed up to the law, I never would give them the true facts.
“What’s it like to sleep here? And how can you feel safe? And at the night time here don’t you get cold?
At the side of the road out here on your own, you don’t even look very old.”
Some would be sober and some would be merry, but most of them just wanted to hear,
What it was like sleeping rough in the West End, and was I on the crack or the gear?
I’d tell them half-truths but we’d still somehow connect, I’m just trying my best to survive.
They’d ask why I couldn’t go back home to live, but to stay undetected I lied.
I told them the truths when they asked of the dangers, like the drunk folk that will try to start fights.
But after a while you get a thick skin, and you just have to stand up for your rights.
I tried to avoid having to lie too much, and I just tried to simply be.
The last thing I wanted was to tug on their sorrows, so I’d say I was happy and free.
Funny I guess, my life in the West End, and some of the people I’d meet.
There was once a woman who’d come by every few days, and play scrabble with me on the street.
I’d met Uri Geller, he seemed a nice fella, although I’d not told him that I’d ran away.
He said he’d charged up a card with his positive vibes, which would help bring some luck to my day.
The boxer Chris Eubank would come whizzing past me, on a small silver scooter so fast.
And so many faces that I’d seen on the telly,
would once in a while walk past.
I’ll take each day just how it comes, but it wasn’t all lonely and dark.
I’d always still loved to play with a football, and across the road was Green Park.
Big groups of lads, we would all kick a ball, and all nations would come together.
And I’d always find myself something to do, no matter what sort of weather.
Some kind-hearted folk would take me out for dinner,
I’d slept on someone’s office floor.
Some would simply drop me some breakfast, and the next day bring some more.
Always this life had brought me some bright sparks,
and only now can I think this way.
If it wasn’t for those that had poked in their nose,
I wouldn’t be who I am today.
And if I hadn’t have broken some boundaries myself, then things could have seemed so much worse.
You’re not on your own when good people connect,
Like a gift from this great universe.
© Ben Westwood
Poems From a Runaway is available on Amazon at
Or personally signed colour copies available via the 'My book' section of this website.