In the poem The Cold Within,it is said about the last man:
Giving only to those who gave / Was how he played the game.
What game is the poet referring to?
Here the ‘game’ is a metaphor for the life’s game or journey of life. The last man in the poem is a kind of selfish man who gives something only to one who can give him something in return. This is the attitude he showed all his life. So, the poet has commented that “this is how he played the game” in his life. But undoubtedly, he has taken the wrong move in the game.
This is said to supply the readers with a reason as to why that last man did not share his log of wood when they all needed it to keep the fire burning and keep them warm and alive.