To me this poem is about how a boy looks up to his father who is a farmer as his role model. Heaney starts describing his fathers physical strength but later refuses to take the responsibility of his father. It's about the relationship between father and son. At the beginning he describes the father at work and towards the end the father becomes a secondary character. This might be how Heaneys father appeared in his life or what he experienced when he was younger. Heaney expresses his respect and love for his father and acknowledges his own place in the family line.
Heaney was a clumsy child who dogged his fathers heels 'stumbled in his hob nailed wake fell sometimes'. At times Heaney might of wanted to walk in his fathers footsteps 'to grow up and plough'. At the end its a role reversal, his father is the one stumbling behind. 'it is my father who keeps stumbling behind me, and will not go away'.
|image used from google images|