Zoe Zeerip was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at age 13, after enduring a year of mysterious symptoms and misdiagnoses. After spending much of her teens in denial about her arthritis, she began to embrace advocacy and raise awareness for the challenges of living with arthritis as a child and young adult.

She and her older brother Zeppelin Zeerip produced Joint Effort, a short film about her journey from getting diagnosed to where she is today.

A poem about Zoe called “Made to Move” — written by her mother, Marialyce Zeerip — narrates the film.

Here are the lyrics of the poem:

Made to Move

I was made to move
A force of nature
Swift, powerful, determined
Fighting forward, relentless
You arrived.


No hesitation in your step
No intention to wait.
Burning hot in the night.
Thirteen when we first met…
Your greeting,
a muted assault.
Your pleasure, my agony.


I don’t mention your name
I don’t fight back
For a teenager is not your typical prey
You found a key to the house
while my body, no longer my temple
became yours.


Yet I go,
propelling myself forward
Straining against invisible chains
at times slack
but then
without warning
taut, unyielding
Dispatching a bone deep ache
like a depraved lover
craves my acquiescence.
I could not hide
Nor retreat to safety.


Alone in a crazed duet
I spoke not of your breath, your blows
I whispered to the deep.
I learned you
Your routines, your tactics
By night I grew my resistance
I dreamt of revenge, of rising
Grew strong in pursuit of escape
and fled to the shelter of the forest
Breathing deep of the green of the wood
We battled, my arsenal growing
While I impaled you on the sharpest of blades
my mind made you small.
My smile, a shield unfaltering.


This jailer, Arthritis, cannot hold me
I move
Free my fear with my body
Forget this prison with play
I dance
embracing the day.


To see more of our campaign for Joint Effort, visit creakyjoints.org/jointeffort

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