As 1970s Northern Ireland is embroiled in the Troubles, one little boy, Kevin McBride, has his own troubles - and it’s against this backdrop that one Banbridge man’s first novel is set.
The Twelfth Man, authored by Keith McKibbin, is a semi-autobiographical work set in Banbridge.
It was Keith’s experiences growing up in Banbridge in the 70s and 80s that he said prompted the book.
“The historical, coming-of-age novel tells the story of Kevin McBride, born at the very start of the Northern Ireland conflict,” Keith said.
“I shared with Kevin McBride an obsession of trying to pass the dreaded eleven plus examination. I was so self-involved with the hated test that I ignored virtually everything else going on around me including the Troubles.
“The idea for the book was a result of me thinking what would have happened if so many young people - of which I was one - had not just accepted what they were told and conditioned to believe.
“The character of Kevin has grown up in the Troubles and accepts the Protestant assertion. However, he begins to question all he has been told when Ronald Douglas from across the border enters his life, for Ronald is a young boy who doesn’t just accept what everyone else is being told.”
Keith, who now lives in Glasgow with his wife Pauline, and four daughters Zoe, Savannah, Olivia and Amelia, was manager of Ballydown Filling Station until 1998.
A past pupil of Banbridge Academy and Abercorn Primary he says many will remember his father David McKibbin, who was head of Mathematics at the Academy from 1973 to 1990.
Keith is now an English teacher at Cleveden Secondary in Glasgow and said: “Some of my students have now read the book and it causes some debate in class.
“They were all born long after the ceasefire but they were all aware of the Troubles. I find that highly significant.
“I was completely unaware, when growing up, that events so close by were having such a monumental impact across the globe. It’s this reflection that helped shape the book.”
There may be more books from Keith as he says he has several ideas for new writing projects, again set in Ireland.
“Whilst I love living in Scotland, Ireland will always be very dear to me,” he said, “and there is nothing I look forward more than returning to Banbridge with Pauline and the girls.”
The Twelfth Man is available to purchase on Amazon and has already received many positive reviews.