What was the poem Mae recites on Ted Lasso, S3 E11 about parents and how they mess you up?

Note: Don’t miss the video at the bottom of the page of the poet reading his own poem — it’s fabulous

Just in case you are not British and have not grown up with this poem as being one of the staples of a good British education, you may be wondering what that poem pub owner Mae recites to Ted on Ted Lasso was and who wrote it — Ted Lasso, Season 3, Episode 11, “Mom City“.

You know, the one that begins “They fuck you up your Mum and Dad”.

The poem was written by English novelist and poet (and librarian) Philip Larkin, and is called ‘This Be the Verse‘.

When was Philip Larkin’s ‘This Be the Verse‘ first published?

Larkin’s ‘This Be the Verse‘ was first published in August, 1971 and went on to become one of Larkin’s most-loved works.

Probably because it not only featured the poet’s typical down-to-earth somewhat rye sense of humor, but also hit a nerve for so many people who grew up with less than stellar parents.

Or with parents who meant well but didn’t deliver well.

The poem is about how, no matter how much they try, most parents cause their children damage, even unintentionally.

And that is because they were similarly damaged by their own often well-intentioned parents:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   
They may not mean to, but they do.   
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

The somewhat humorous poem ends with Larkin advising the listener to avoid the whole dreadful cycle, by not having kids themself.

You can read the poem in its entirety, as heard on Ted Lasso, on The Poetry Foundation’s website. (Sorry, but I’m not including it here as it is under copyright).

Philip Larkin’s ‘This Be the Verse‘ has gone on since its publication to be one of the most popular of contemporary poems in the United Kingdom, with the British voting it one of the nation’s Top 100 Poems.

There is also a wonderful video featuring Larkin reciting ‘This Be the Verse‘ himself you can listen to below.


About Michelle Topham

I'm a Brit-American journalist, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I'm also obsessed with music, anime, manga, and K-dramas. Help!