Born in Newcastle in 1910, Kirkaldy represented NSW Country Firsts in 1933 and 1937. A hooker, he joined Canterbury in 1938 at the age of 28 having played for the Waratah Mayfield Club in Newcastle in his younger years. He went on to represent New South Wales on 11 occasions between 1938-1941. He won two premierships with Canterbury-Bankstown in 1938 and 1942. He played in two losing Grand Final sides in 1940 and 1946. He also coached the Bulldogs in 1943. Kirkaldy was affectionately known as the Prince of Hookers. He was denied the opportunity to play for Australia because of the war. After a long and successful career, Kirkaldy retired at the end of 1948 at the age of 38. League historian Alan Whiticker stated that many judges felt that Kirkaldy was "the greatest hooker since Sandy Pearce."
Kirkaldy was inducted into the Canterbury Bulldogs Hall Of Fame in 2007. He was named as a reserve in the Bulldogs 70 Year Team Of Champions in 2004.  He died from cancer in 1973, aged 63.