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A Keelman's Lament

To listen to Roly's recording of this song and see a slideshow of photographs, click here.

I used to be a keelman, and lived close by the Tyne
We carried coal down river all year round come rain or shine
We loaded up the big ships bound for London and elsewhere
Three brothers and our pee dee, my only son and heir

The keelmen clan are hardy, they toil all night and day
They take care of each other and defend their ancient way
For many are the perils and its not just now and then
For often press gangs come here on lookout for young men 

A while ago the press gang came to do their dirty deed
But Crowley's Crew were waiting to attack and get men freed
They sprung a trap and waited, then suddenly did charge
The press gang took a beating, were routed by and large

The gang humiliated they reinforcements sought
They then returned for vengeance and now many men were caught
They hauled them to the station then the poor souls handed on
For duty in the navy, all hope of freedom gone

Alas I too was taken from my brothers and my son
I'm now in Nelson's navy and the battle must be won
We face the French, arms loaded, our duty must be done
But how I long for Tyneside with keel and not a gun

If I survive I'll bide time till chance might come my way
I'll try to flee this nightmare and get home I hope and pray
For all that I desire is to be with kith and kin
And be on board my keel boat and find my peace within 


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