An unnamed man sits silently in the corner of a bar “staring at his drink”.
The first stanza describes his appearance using the language of ship-building.
The second stanza shows the Protestant man’s bigotry, describing how “that fist would drop a hammer on a Catholic”.
His “sleek pint of porter” is compared to a priest’s collar as the “only Roman collar he tolerates”.
In this stanza the siren signalling the end of his shift lets him out of work, to take on the shift God has ordered as "leisure".
In the final stanza we return to the image of him sitting in the pub, still silent.
There is a suggestion that his family are intimidated by him. Heaney refers to them being “quiet/ At slammed door and smoker’s cough” on his arrival home.