Playing Dead Man, Dead Man Come Alive

I was playing a game with my girls today. This one, they taught me. Apparently, it’s one that they started playing with friends at our old house where we had a big trampoline. It’s not one that I played when I was young. Maybe that is because we didn’t have a trampoline when I was growing up (who did?) and I think it is a game that was created especially for trampoline play. That said, today we played it outside in the garden and it worked well there. Like any game, you can adapt it as necessary.

Basically, one person is picked to be “It”. They stand (or kneel if you’re on a trampoline) blindfolded in the middle of the playing area. The other players scurry around them and chant something to wake the ‘dead man’ up. We chanted:

Dead man, dead man come alive
Come alive by the count of five
One, two, three, four, five

At that point, “It” has to find and tag somebody. When someone is tagged, they are “It” and the fun begins again.

Of course, you can make up your own rhyme to wake the dead man. It’s always more fun when you have your own custom rhymes.

In 1981, Bob Dylan wrote his own lyrics for Dead Man, but it didn’t have anything to do with this game (or did it?):

Dead man, dead man
When will you arise?
Cobwebs in your mind,
Dust upon your eyes.

Oh, play this game in an open space (or on your knees if on a trampoline) because it’s easy to run into things. I tagged two big trees this afternoon. Ouch.

Does anyone remember playing dead man, dead man in the nineteen seventies or eighties?

5 Responses to Playing Dead Man, Dead Man Come Alive

  1. Lily says:

    When I played it, someone was picked “it” and then they had to lay down in the middle of the trampoline and the rest of us walked in a circle and we chanted “dead man,dead man how did you die. Dead man, dead man when did you die. Dead man, dead man you may now come alive”, and then we ran around the trampoline and “it” had to tag a person.

  2. alie says:

    i love dead man but how we play it is we say dead man dead man come alive wen i count to the number 5 1 2 3 4 5 come alive close your eyes so i like ur way and there is many ways to play dead man but im just showing u my way so bye.

    • Games We Played says:

      Thanks Alie
      Dead Man is a great game and yes it has A few different ways to play. In general it is played the same with a small variance, all I know is kids love it when you teach them. Cheers take care
      Frank from Games We Played.

      • the way i got taught to play dead men is like they lay down n u say dead man dead man how did u they tell u how u died dead man when did u die they tell u wen they died dead man dead man when i count to ten u may rise

  3. Leilabeth says:

    I remember playing this in like 2003 or 2004 when I was I think maybe six or seven? I was at a friend’s birthday party and she had a bouncy house and the “dead man” would lay in the middle with his/her eyes closed and everyone else would stand around them in a circle and jump up and down while chanting
    “Dead man, dead man come alive
    Come alive at the count of five
    Come alive!”
    And then everyone would run around the bounce house while the “dead man” ran around with their eyes closed trying to tag someone… It was so much fun! But my mom got pissed and I wasn’t allowed to play anymore because she thought I would get hurt. Which none of us ever did. Now I’m 16 but I would LOVE to play again!

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