He often mourned the fact that his fellow countrymen seemed so obsessed with football rather than culture.
In 1935, he wrote the poem Glasgow 1960. Set in the future, MacDiarmid imagines the narrator as a Scottish exile returning to Glasgow. He discovers to his delight that in his absence there has been a cultural transformation.
Returning to Glasgow after long exile
Nothing seemed to me to have changed its style,
Buses and trams all labelled 'To Ibrox'
Swung past tight as they'd hold with folks.
Football match, I concluded, but just to make sure
I asked; and the man looked at me fell dour,
Then said, 'Where in God's name are you frae, sir?
It'll be a record gate, but the cause o' the stir
Is a debate on"la loi de l'effort converti"
Between Professor MacFadyen and a Spainish pairty."
I gasped. The newsboys came running along,
'Special! Turkish Poet's Abstruse New Song.
Scottish Authors' Opinions' - and, holy snakes,
I saw the edition sell like hot cakes!