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Poems to Inspire Resilience: The Premier League Writing Stars competition

Yannick Bolasie + kids, Poems to Inspire Resilience: The Premier League Writing Stars campaign

Resilience is a big word currently in education, but can seem a little daunting to parents. We all want our kids to be able to cope under pressure and to cope with whatever life throws at them. We want them to be able to follow their dreams and smash their goals, and to be kind cheerleaders to their team mates along the way. But how do you actually build kids’ resilience?

Resilience is something Premier League footballers know all about. You might remember back in March I found out all about the Premier League’s Primary Stars programme of free resources for schools. The Premier League has now launched the Writing Stars campaign with a poetry competition, for children aged 5 to 11, backed by names from football and literature, including Frank Lampard OBE, Premier League player and lyricist Yannick Bolasie and Children’s Laureate Lauren Child.

The theme of the poem is resilience, which I love.

What is resilience and why is it important?

Resilience is often part of the school curriculum these days, and it is a really important life skill on and off the pitch. Coping and functioning well no matter what life throws at you requires resilience. Supporting pupils’ social and emotional well-being, as well as providing a supportive school climate leads to more positive outcomes for all students.

Teaching resilience is important, but just how do you cultivate it? Sport and nature plays a big role in building resilience for my kids. One loves to play on a rugby team and enjoys the discipline of karate, the other likes to test limits more freely outdoors in nature. Stories, poems and everyday conversation about life events are perfect launch pads for parents to discuss resilience too.

5 poems to inspire resilience.

Studies also show that teaching resilience is about modelling it, easier said than done as a parent. For me, resilience in times of need often comes from music, poetry or inspirational words. Here are five poems to help you feel like a more resilient parent, and to start a discussion about resilience with your kids. These poems would all really help to inspire a winning poetry entry too.

Never underestimate poetry and kids, they often love to puzzle a challenging poem out. Whether you choose to use the poem to inspire your own resilience, share the whole poem, or take quotes to inspire your kids, there is lots to help you explore and motivate resilience here.

Human Family by Maya Angelou

I’ve started here because still in 2017 students at Oxford University are campaigning to bring more people of colour to the Literature curriculum, and with that I would argue we still need more women too. This is a wonderful poem about celebrating the fact that we have more in common than we have different. Working together, understanding others and being kind is a huge part of resilience. For older children Angelou’s And Still I Rise is totally inspirational too. See Serena Williams read Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise, recorded before she won the 2016 Wimbledon Women’s Tennis final

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Poems to Inspire Resilience: The Premier League Writing Stars campaign

There is so much to talk about in and around this poem. Henley teaches us that we are responsible for our own happiness, captains of our own destiny. in fact my favourite line is “I am the captain of my soul”. Henley had to have his leg amputated at 17, Invictus means Invincible in Latin – you can see where the Invictus Games came from. What does your child see themselves as captain of? What have they mastered or had to overcome? Could that start a poem?

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul

Wow by Hollie McNish

Poems to Inspire Resilience: The Premier League Writing Stars campaign

Hollie McNish is an incredible contemporary performance poet, it has been argued the most influential of our times. Wow is all about body image and is brilliant way to discuss media pressure on our appearance vs the power of celebrating what our bodies do for us. Watch Wow being performed by Hollie Mcnish on You Tube. This could inspire a poem about how amazing our bodies are.

I say ‘my body is amazing’
Despite what some might say
I say my body is amazing
Despite the claims you make.

If by Rudyard Kipling

For years I felt like this poem excluded me, as a girl. But as a grown up I discovered it was written Father to Son, a context which now gives me renewed appreciation. I see it with new eyes now as a parent, I love the way it builds from the little but incredibly important things that make us resilient, to the big things. This poem is on the wall of the player’s entrance at Wimbledon, so it has already been a sporting inspiration. I could see this igniting a poem that lists all the little things that add up to make a resilient person…

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

Try, Try Again by TH Palmer

Poems to Inspire Resilience: The Premier League Writing Stars campaign

I love the uplifting and all encompassing message here, it is one I still need to remind myself, and so definitely need to instill in buckets in my kids! You can do anything if you put your mind to it, and keep on trying. It was used by the Premier League Primary Stars television ad to brilliant effect and entrants in the poetry competition can choose to continue the Try, Try Again poem or start a new poem.

All that other folks can do,
Why, with patience, should not you?
Only keep this rule in view:
Try, try again


The Premier League Writing Stars Poetry Competition

How do we enter the poetry competition?

All entries are submitted via schools, simply visit www.plprimarystars.com to register or nominate your child’s schools to take part. The competition started on National Poetry Day (September 28), with December 22 2017 as the last day to submit work.

Poems should be no more than 20 lines or 150 words and be on the theme of resilience. Pupils can continue the Try, Try Again poem or start a new poem.

Poems can be of any structure and don’t have to rhyme. Entries will be considered against a range of criteria including creativity, tone and originality.

Here is an excellent example of a resilience poem written and performed by Alex Scott MBE an awesome role model in Women’s Football who has played for Arsenal, England and represented Great Britain at the Olympics. Check out the challenge unfolding on Twitter:


What can my child win?

The winning poems will be published in a limited-edition book. Other prizes include author-led writing workshops and Premier League trophy school visits, as well as winning poems being read aloud by football stars. The first 1,000 schools that enter the competition will receive a bespoke ‘Book Bag.’


Do encourage your child’s school to sign up this week, and let’s encourage a generation of happy, resilient kids and their grown ups.

I’m working in a paid relationship with the Premier League on their #PLWritingStars campaign. Discover the benefits your children and their schools can get by taking part in the Writing Stars poetry competition.

Poems to Inspire Resilience in Kids

Photo by sydney zentz on Unsplash







  1. 30/10/2017 / 5:34 pm

    Great post Penny! I felt inspired when reading it! Resilience is crucial to our kids (and us!) and I love the poems you included. This project by the Premier League is an amazing way of building that resilience muscle and inspiring and educating our kids.

    • Penny Alexander
      04/11/2017 / 12:17 pm

      Resilience, muscle, I like that a lot!

  2. 03/11/2017 / 9:34 pm

    I love the poems you included Penny – fab post! It is such a great campaign and promotes so many skills as well as an important life skill.

    • Penny Alexander
      04/11/2017 / 12:17 pm

      I felt so inspired reading and listening to them all!

  3. Becky Goddard-Hill
    05/11/2017 / 11:59 am

    oh just lovely Penny will get the kids on it

  4. 05/11/2017 / 4:02 pm

    Really inspiring choices, and a great idea. I love the Premier League reading initiatives and think it’s great that poetry’s now being included as it works so well when spoken, and I think can appeal to so many kids (and adults too)

  5. stressymummy1
    05/11/2017 / 9:04 pm

    If is one of my favourite poems, it is just so inspiring. I think resilience is such an important skill for kids to learn, especially today when they have to cope with so much more than we did growing up. I love the idea of the competition and how wonderful to see footballers playing a part to help kids.

  6. 05/11/2017 / 9:45 pm

    This is fabulous. I am so pleased that resilience is such an important topic nowadays, if our children can develop this skill they’ll be able to weather most things life throws at them. I’ll share these superb poem recommendations with mine. Thanks, Mich x

  7. 06/11/2017 / 8:08 am

    This is such a super idea and i love the campaign. Its great to see that they are promoting not just just physical but are promoting learning like this too. Kids need balance and this is ace 🙂

  8. 06/11/2017 / 11:08 am

    Ooh I must get Maisie to enter this she loves a writing competition x

I'd love to know your thoughts!